By Ali Hochberg
Fact for the week of May 1, 2016: Despite their importance for human economies and societies, as well as marine ecosystems, coral reefs only cover less than 1% of the ocean floor.
Fact for the week of May 8, 2016: Charles Darwin is credited with developing the theory of atoll formation, which he described in his volume “The Voyage of the Beagle,” published in 1842. It took more than a century later, until the 1950s, for scientists to prove him correct. Perhaps most fascinating, Darwin was able to correctly describe atoll formation before ever actually seeing one.
Fact for the week of May 15, 2016: As a geologic structure, the Great Barrier Reef has been around for nearly 500,000 years; however, the reefs we see today have only appeared in the last 6,000-8,000 years. This points to the importance of long-term reef ecosystem monitoring to help us understand how coral reefs grow and change over both human and geologic time spans.
Fact for the week of May 22, 2016: While most coral reefs grow in clear, tropical waters, scientists are discovering that many species exist outside these conditions. Earlier this year scientists discovered a 600-mile long coral reef at the mouth of the Amazon River, where the water is often muddy enough to block sunlight from reaching the bottom.