Coral Reefs

A model of an oarfish

Rare Oarfish Caught on Video on Great Barrier Reef

This is the first record of the species on the eastern seaboard of Australia

Fish like Epinephelides armatus, also known as breaksea cod, tend to be rated as uglier than fish like Holacanthus ciliaris, or queen angelfish.

Ugly Fish Need Love, Too

New research finds that less attractive reef fish are more likely to be threatened

Participants in First Nature Tours help mitigate damages from wildfires in Central Oregon.

Regenerative Tourism Invites Travelers to Get Their Hands Dirty

Vacations that allow tourists to participate in conservation activities, such as habitat restoration, are growing in popularity

When a group of 360 dolphins visited corals located in the Northern Red Sea, reseachers noticed that calves under one year old would watch adults brush themselves against the coral.

Dolphins May Use Coral and Sponges as Skin Care Items

The mammals rub on invertebrates, possibly to contact substances that might work like antibacterial creams

Researchers tested how oxybenzone and sunlight combined harms anemones in a new study. 

Scientists Now Know Why Sunscreen Harms Corals

A new study shows that, when exposed to sunlight, anemones turn a chemical found in sunscreen into a toxin

When corals are stressed, they will expel their algal partner in a process called coral bleaching.

Mass Coral Bleaching Hits Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Unusually warm waters are stressing sensitive corals, causing the fourth major bleaching event in the last seven years

Some chemical compounds used in sunscreens, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, are facing scrutiny from legislators and environmental advocates. Scientists are looking to the ultraviolet light-blocking compounds produced by marine organisms as potential replacements.

Designing a More Environmentally Friendly Sunscreen

Scientists are sourcing new ultraviolet ray-blocking compounds from algae, seaweed, cyanobacteria and other marine creatures

Last November, a team of scientists and photographers spent 200 hours studying the vast reef during a dive expedition supported by UNESCO.

Good News

Researchers Find a Pristine Coral Reef Off the Coast of Tahiti

With rose-shaped corals as far as the eye can see, it is one of the largest healthy reefs on record

From amazing firsts on Mars to the impacts of climate change on Earth, these science stories stood out as the most important of 2021

The Ten Most Significant Science Stories of 2021

Thrilling discoveries, hurdles in the fight against Covid and advancements in space exploration defined the past year

In the mountains of southwestern Nevada, the dark fossilized remnants of extinct archaeocyath reefs dot the tops of the hills. Millions of years ago, these peaks were at the bottom of the sea.

Fossils From One of the World's First Reefs Can Be Found on Mountains in Nevada

Archaeocyaths were the original reef builders, and one of the best places to see them is in the desert

Healthy reef habitats are usually alive with the diverse sounds of marine life.

Bizarre Fish Songs Raise Hope for Coral Reef Recovery

Audio recordings show a once-dying ecosystem has transformed into a lively soundscape

A growing body of work shows that marine animals are attracted to the sounds of healthy environments.

Playing Recordings of a Healthy Ocean Can Help Restore Marine Ecosystems

Scientists are using a 'fake it til you make it' approach to attract animals to coral reefs and other degraded habitats

Three giant rocks—Tokia, Rebua, and Kamatoa—sit in the ocean south of Makin Island in the Republic of Kiribati.

How Indigenous Stories Helped Scientists Understand the Origin of Three Huge Boulders

Legends spurred researchers to form a theory about Makin Island's distinctively out-of-place rocks

A diver swims over a bleached section of the Great Barrier Reef near Heron Island.

The Planet Has Lost Half of Its Coral Reefs Since 1950

A new study finds dramatic declines in coral reef cover, biodiversity and fish abundance

Environmental scientist Alexandra Ordoñez Alvarez from the University of Queensland collects data in Far Northern Great Barrier Reef on Ashmore Bank.

Scientists Complete the First Map of the World's Coral Reefs

Nearly 100,000 square miles of the organism have been charted in high detail to create a tool for conservationists to help save them

Olive sea snakes are among the largest marine snake species and sometimes make contact with divers.

Venomous Sea Snakes That Charge Divers May Just Be Looking for Love

A new study suggests apparent attacks are actually fleeting cases of mistaken identity

The museum's sculptures promote coral growth and will eventually serve as homes for sea creatures.

Art Meets Science

You Can Now Explore an Underwater Sculpture Museum in the Mediterranean

Artist Jason deCaires Taylor placed 93 statues of people and plants in a submerged "forest" off the coast of Cyprus

From the surface, the havoc caused on a coral reef by a layer of low-oxygen water was barely evident.

Smithsonian Voices

Watch What Happens When a Coral Reef Can't Get Enough Oxygen

In September 2017, divers observed a massive "dead zone" rising to envelop Caribbean coral reefs in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Chris Meyer, a marine invertebrate zoologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, dives around French Polynesia with equipment used to track coral reef health.

Future of Conservation

Meet the Reef Expert Collecting Environmental Time Capsules

Collecting DNA in waters worldwide can help scientists figure out which places are the most important for conservation

A proposed government plan will move the A303 highway, pictured here in the distance behind Stonehenge's iconic structures, underground. But Unesco warned in a report Monday that the efforts might endanger the site's OVU, or outstanding universal value.

Unesco Weighs Changes to Stonehenge's Cultural Heritage Status

A new report also cited Venice and the Great Barrier Reef as sites that might be placed on the World Heritage in Danger list

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