<p style="margin: 5pt 0pt;">Marine ecologist Enric Sala (foreground) examines an enormous lobe coral on Kingman Reef in the South Pacific’s remote Line Islands. This coral is 500 years old, but the species was unknown to science before Sala’s discovery. Such finds aren’t shocking at Kingman, which is one of the world’s most pristine reef ecosystems. The site shows scientists how much has been lost at reefs found closer to human habitation.</p>

Ancient Lobe Coral

Marine ecologist Enric Sala (foreground) examines an enormous lobe coral on Kingman Reef in the South Pacific’s remote Line Islands. This coral is 500 years old, but the species was unknown to science before Sala’s discovery. Such finds aren’t shocking at Kingman, which is one of the world’s most pristine reef ecosystems. The site shows scientists how much has been lost at reefs found closer to human habitation.

Photograph by Brian J. Skerry, National Geographic

Corals

Coral reefs are some of Earth’s richest and most diverse ecosystems. Tiny animals build these largest biological structures on the planet—some of which can be seen from space.

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