Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused immense damage to coral, and scientists are getting their first looks at the reefs.
The massive category 5 hurricanes Maria and Irma that ripped through the Caribbean earlier this year did more than destroy homes and devastate families. They also caused immense damage to coral reefs, and scientists are getting their first looks at just how much damage they sustained and what it will take to get the reefs to recover.
The effects of the hurricanes was quite varied, with the storms damaging branches of coral, while causing others to be covered in toxic algae. Sometimes, entire coral colonies had been totally swept away by the hurricanes thanks to the gigantic waves the storms produce.
In shallow waters the damage was particularly acute, but research teams were more encouraged as they went deeper. It also provides scientists with an rare opportunity to study corals and how they handle natural disasters, which could help in conservation efforts as coral faces threats from global warming.