Coral Reefs

Otherwordly images reveal coral skeleton-building

Pupa Gilbert

Coral reefs are under constant threat from climate change.

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Major storms and heat waves can cause corals to bleach, making them even more vulnerable.

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We hear about ocean acidification as another threat to corals — but some but some corals seem resistant to acidification.

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A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has shed new light on the skeleton-building process and suggests that rising temperatures — not acidification — should be our first concern.

Pupa Gilbert

pupa gilbert

Pupa Gilbert

Ocean acidification is thought to hinder this process.

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Pupa Gilbert

It’s been previously assumed that the coral skeleton is in direct contact with seawater as the skeleton develops, and that more acidic seawater can hinder skeleton-building.

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But the new images show that skeleton-building takes place in between the coral’s living tissue and its skeleton — separate from seawater.

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