A macro view of hard coral in Malaysia is seen here. Corals are marine organisms that often live in colonies of many identical individuals. Coral is formed from a myriad of polyps, which can be a few millimeters in diameter. They are genetically identical and reproduce asexually, but can also breed by spawning. Corals are major contributors to the structure of reefs that grow in tropical and subtropical water. Many species need sunlight to grow and are found in shallow water, though other species can live in the deeper, colder waters. NEWSCOM
Scuba divers swim above a bed of corals off Malaysia's Tioman Island in the South China Sea. Some conservation groups, such as the World Wildlife Fun (WWF) say that Southeast Asia's biologically diverse coral reefs will disappear by the end of this century, wiping out coastal economies, if climate change isn't addressed.
A Darkhead Blenny swims around coral off of the Cayman Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. NEWSCOM
A small crab hides inside broken coral in the Lembeh Strait off the coast of North Sulawesi, Indonesia. David Loh/Reuters/FILE
A bottle of bleach used by lobster fishermen to force lobsters out of their holes for capture lies on a reef. The bleach contaminates the crustaceans and the underwater environment. NEWSCOM
A cleaning shrimp hides in bubble coral in Puerto Galera, Philippines. NEWSCOM
This photo released by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority shows a bleached section of Australia's famous coral reef. Scientists warned the coral could be killed by global warming in decades, but it has regenerated itself in record time. Despite this, a report in September warned that the Great Barrier Reef is still in serious jeopardy. Coral has symbiotic unicellular algae, which gives it its vibrant color. In times of stress, often caused by environmental factors, the coral lose their color and reveal the white of their calcium carbonate skeletons, an event known as bleaching. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority/AFP/NEWSCOM
A wrasse swims through Antipathes dichotoma black coral off of Sicily, Italy. Italian researchers said on Thursday they had found one of the largest forest of rare black coral in the world and a related coral species which had never been studied before. ISPRA/Reuters
A close up of soft coral is seen here. Soft corals, unlike stony ones, are flexible and move back and forth with the current. They often have a lace-like appearance and their skeletons are made of protein not calcium. NEWSCOM
A Pygmy blenny swims over a star coral in Sulawesi, Indonesa. NEWSCOM
An aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is shown here. NEWSCOM
A diver swims next to a reef in the Red Sea off of Egypt.
Off of Iromote Island near Okinawa, Japan, a close up of Acropor nobilis coral is shown here. NEWSCOM
Dendronephthya, a soft coral, is seen off of Egypt in the Red Sea. NEWSCOM
A deep sea coral reef is seen from a four-man submersible more than 1,000 feet down in the Atlantic Ocean about 50 miles off the southeastern coast of the United States. Scientists are studying the deep water reefs in a 23,000 square mile region stretching from North Carolina to Florida that has been proposed for protection from fishing and other endeavors that could damage the ecosystem. arthowardphotography.com/AP
Pink corals in the Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific are seen in this photo released from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Parts of three remote and uninhabited Pacific island chains are being set aside as national monuments to protect them from oil and gas extraction, as well as commercial fishing. Enacted by then-President George W. Bush, the three areas are the largest marine conservation effort so far in history. The region totals 195,280 square miles and includes the Mariana Trench, the Rose Atoll in American Samoa, and seven islands strung along the equator.
Part of a coral reef is seen in West Papua, Indonesia, in the Pacific Ocean. NEWSCOM
Bright orange coral off of Fiji is shown here. NEWSCOM
AP Photo/Centre for Marine Studies, The University of Queensland, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, File
Oceans' rising acid levels have emerged as one of the biggest threats to coral reefs, acting as the "osteoporosis of the sea" and threatening everything from food security to tourism to livelihoods, the head of a U.S. scientific agency said Monday.