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This image was taken in October, 2005, during a coral-bleaching event in the Caribbean.
Credit: Todd LaJeunesse, Penn State

Global Warming Causes Outbreak of Rare Algae in Caribbean Corals
News story originally written on September 9, 2009

The Caribbean Sea is usually warm. But it was much warmer than normal in 2005. The heat made corals less healthy. Scientists say that a tiny type of algae helped some corals to survive.

Corals and the algae living inside their bodies need each other. The algae get a safe place to live. The coral gets some of its nutrition. But corals can loose the algae when water temperatures get too warm.

Scientists found one type of algae was could survive during the warm 2005 event. This rare type of algae may have saved many coral animals. As waters got warmer, the algae grew in corals. Then, the corals took in other types of algae when water temperatures returned to normal.

This type of algae may be able to save corals from bleaching during warm periods, but may not be good for coral health. It may not give the corals the nutrition they need. The scientists are planning more studies to better understand how this type of algae affects coral.

Last modified February 1, 2010 by Lisa Gardiner.

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