We think of coral reefs as a diverse ecosystem, but each coral is an entire and complex microworld of organisms imperceptible to our eyes.
Just like humans, corals live with myriad microscopic organisms. We are just starting to understand this unseen world.
Fluorescent image of the coral
Pocillopora damicornis. The field of view is approximately 4.1 x 3.4 mm.
Andrew D. Mullen/UCSD
Could this new technology do for the microscopic marine world what the first telescopes did for the heavens above?
Nemo is actually a ‘false clownfish’.
The recent severe bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef has also affected anemones, which provide homes for clownfish.
Corals north of Cairns have been hit hardest by the recent bleaching.
AAP Image/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Kerry
An estimated one-third of corals have now died in the parts of the Great Barrier Reef hit hardest by bleaching, meaning recovery could take years or even decades.
Bleached coral can take on luminously beautiful pink and purple hues - but don’t be deceived, these corals are under stress.
The bleaching hitting the Great Barrier Reef not only harms corals. As these close-up photos show, it also deprives many other species of a home and livelihood.
Professor Morgan Pratchett surveys bleached corals on Australia’s GBR.
Cassy Thompson, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Bleaching has hit a huge swathe of the Great Barrier Reef, with many corals in the reef's remote northern reaches now expected to die as a result of warm waters linked to this summer's El Niño.
Corals grow better in the more alkaline ocean conditions that existed in pre-industrial times.
By artificially going 'back in time' to more alkaline ocean conditions, researchers have shown the damage that ocean acidification is already doing to the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is made up of thousands of individual reefs.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr
Ocean acidification will hurt some parts of the Great Barrier Reef more than others.
Adult corals need a good developmental start to establish themselves on the reef.
Anders Poulsen/Wikimedia Commons
Without action to curb the rising acidity of our seas, corals will start to develop deformed skeletons at a crucial young stage of their lives.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most magnificent wonders of our world.
With the United Nations set to decide on whether to list the Great Barrier Reef as officially in danger, we look at the various threats to the reef's survival, starting with the biggie... climate change.
Give up, brain coral, we have you surrounded.
Joseph Pawlik, UNCW
With their natural predators removed, sponges are free to take over coral reefs.
Leiopathes, also known as black corals, are some of the oldest organisms in the sea.
A flock of scientists turned their focus to understand the Deepwater Horizon's impact, including one team that studied deep-sea corals.
Where did the oil go?
Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, scientists are researching how much oil dropped to sea floor, hitchhiking via 'marine snow.'
Deep-water coral Paramuricea sp. from 1000 meter depth at a site in the Atwater Valley region of the Gulf of Mexico.
Ocean Exploration Trust
Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, scientists find dispersants meant to clean up oil spill are toxic to deep-sea corals.
A new research expedition is documenting the deep-sea denizens of the Perth Canyon, such as this flytrap anemone and basket star.
UWA/Schmidt Ocean Institute
The Perth Canyon, off Australia's west coast, is twice the size of the Grand Canyon. But only now, with the help of remote-controlled submarines, are researchers finding out what lives in its depths.
After mass bleaching in 1998, more than half of coral reefs in the Seychelles have slowly recovered.
Coral reefs are the poster child for the damage people are doing to the world’s oceans. Overfishing, pollution and declining water quality have all taken their toll on reefs around the world. Perhaps the…
An idyllic vision of Sydney’s future?
Welcome to tropical Sydney, where colourful surgeonfishes and parrotfishes are plentiful, corals have replaced kelp forests, and underwater life seems brighter, more colourful and all-round better. Or…
Humans and coral share the same biomechanical pathway responsible for activating cellular self-destruction. Destruction of…
Bleached and healthy corals on the Great Barrier Reef near Queensland’s Keppel Islands.
Australia’s coral reefs and mountain-top ecosystems are set to suffer from climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest summary of the research. The threats to these…
Bright colourful coral like this may soon disappear.
Greenhouse gas emissions have warmed the oceans in regions such as the Baltic by as much as 1.3°C. It is now thought that 90% of the heat added to the climate system by humans has been absorbed in the…