2016 saw the worst coral bleaching and coral death event on the Great Barrier Reef ever recorded, but it’s not the only time it has happened. There are regular coral bleaching events now as the waters surrounding the reef warm. This video, taken in 2012, shows a few bleached corals in-between healthy corals -a  reef of moderate health here.

Yes, life adapts to environmental change, shaping itself through natural selection. Yet life also pushes back and changes the environment, alters the planet. This is now as obvious as the air you are breathing, which has been oxygenated by life. So evolution is not a series of adaptations to inanimate events, but a system of feedbacks, an exchange. Life has not simply molded itself to the shifting contours of a dynamic Earth. Rather, life and Earth have shaped each other as they’ve co-evolved. When you start looking at the planet in this way, then you see coral reefs, limestone cliffs, deltas, bogs, and islands of bat guano as parts of this larger animated entity. You realize that the entire skin of Earth, and its depths as well, are indeed alive.

David Grinspoon in Cosmos at Nautalist. Why Most Planets Will Either Be Lush or Dead

The Gaia hypothesis implies that once alien life takes hold, it will flourish.

Welcome to the Dry Tortugas! 

Located near Dry Tortugas National Park, Tortugas Ecological Reserve in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects diverse habitats including seagrass beds and coral reefs. Some parts of the reserve, including Riley’s Hump in the southern portion of the reserve, are protected in part because they are a known spawning site for many species of fish – many of which, like groupers, use sound during this important life stage. 

(Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)


Underwater view of (healthy) coral on the Great Barrier Reef. Note how blue the water is above it.
Coral Reefs Doing Better Than Expected in Many Areas
A new study found "bright spots" where corals are thriving, despite global bleaching events.

Some positive news to start off the week right!


No, the Great Barrier Reef is Not Dead

You might have seen an obituary for the Great Barrier Reef floating around over the past few days. Published by Outside Magazine, the supposedly satirical article declared that the Great Barrier Reef had “passed away after a long illness” at 25 million years of age, and that “no effort” was ever made to save the reef.

This is not true.

It’s really, really, really not true.

Yes, the Great Barrier Reef recently underwent a massive bleaching event that affected 93% of its coral. That bleaching event resulted in the death of 22% of its coral.

22% dead is not the same as 100% dead.

So why did author Rowan Jacobsen write the obituary? Some are saying it was satire, a deliberate exaggeration meant to raise awareness of the Great Barrier Reef’s plight. If this was the case, the plot backfired spectacularly. Many people took to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other public mourning venues to declare their sadness and outrage over the death of the world’s largest living structure.

This is a dangerous reaction, but not an uncommon one. And it’s a reaction that Dr. “Rusty” Brainard, chief of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Program at NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, worries will hinder efforts to save the very-very-very-not-dead reef. As he told the Huffington Post, people may begin to think that “if there’s nothing that can be done,” we should “not do anything and move onto other issues.”

In the interests of preserving the Great Barrier Reef’s not-dead state, let’s not do that. While the Reef is arguably dying, it can still be saved, and we should be doing what we can to save it.

So what can we do?

If the news of the Great Barrier Reef’s “death” upset you, please read on.

Keep reading

At first I thought it was a jelly fish, then, as I swam closer, I realized it was a plastic bag. – Expedition leader Greg Stone

Even remote coral reefs in Indonesia aren’t immune to the blight of plastics. Get the big picture on the Global Explorers Blog.

Thanks to tumblr for putting this on the Radar! Click here for more amazing photos and reports from this expedition to Raja Ampat Indonesia.


The species in the genus Paracheilinus are appropriately called flasher wrasses (or simply flashers), and they are very closely related to fairy wrasses of the genus Cirrhilabrus. This common name is derived from their grandeur “flashing” behavior observed during courting or mating where the male will make quick, exaggerated lateral moves while intensifying his colors and erecting his fins to attract a mate.

               Paracheilinus xanthocirritus Currently known from the South China Sea at the Anambas Islands, Indonesia  In the picture, two nuptial male Paracheilinus xanthocirritus

                  Paracheilinus paineorum with a wide distribution throughout central Indonesia  in the picture a male courting female (left)

                    Paracheilinus alfiani is currently known only from the type locality on the northern coast of Lembata Island in the Lesser Sunda Group of Indonesia

Just like trees, corals accumulate rings as they grow. This is a cross-section of a deep sea coral, glowing purple under ultraviolet light. 

Just like trees, coral growth changes based on temperature, light and nutrient availability – and these fluctuations are reflected in their growth rings. Scientists can use these cross-sections to study past ocean climate!

(via Coral Growth Rings | Ocean Portal | Smithsonian)