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Study: Corals May Have Engaged In ‘Survival Of The Fittest’ Warming Event

While 2016 saw a sizeable number of corals in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef die off due to higher ocean temperatures, other corals in that same ecosystem survived, and scientists now think they have a handle on why.

Terry Hughes, a coral reef expert at Australia’s James Cook University, told The New York Times that the corals with the highest sensitivity to heat died, but those corals that weren’t as sensitive survived:

“It’s one enormous natural selection event. So when the heat returned in 2017, the susceptible corals had been substantially depleted. The new coral assemblage, if you like, at the beginning of the second heat waves, was made up predominantly of the more heat-tolerant species, the more robust ones.”

Cook was the lead writer of a research paper on this topic recently published in Nature Climate Change.

Check out the paper here.

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.