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Source: The Ocean Agency/Paul G. Allen Philanthropies

Scientists Discover Coral Reefs That Could Withstand Warming Waters

By Kristin Hunt

The Coral Triangle is a large swath of the Pacific Ocean that’s often called the “Amazon of the seas,” due to its staggering amount of coral (600 species), fish (over 2,000 types), and marine turtles (all but one species lives there). With coral reefs currently in crisis, scientists have turned their attention to the Triangle for answers — and they’ve just uncovered some encouraging news. 

A team of marine biologists discovered shallow-water reefs off the coast of Indonesia that were surprisingly resilient in the face of mass bleaching, indicating they might be able to withstand increasingly warmer waters.

The scientists embarked on six-week expedition earlier this summer, with funding from Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen. They were hoping to study the effects of the unprecedented coral bleaching from 2014 through 2017 — which The Guardian has dubbed the “worst coral bleaching event in history.” Using underwater scooters equipped with 360-degree cameras, the University of Queensland researchers captured 56,000 images from the Coral Triangle. Artificial intelligence processed and analyzed those images in seconds, helping the team reach a surprising conclusion.