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Hurricanes in 2017 did not greatly damage corals, but reefs were already in trouble

A colony of the coral Orbicella annularis with encroaching algae, 10 months after Hurricane Irma.

A colony of the coral Orbicella annularis with encroaching algae, 10 months after Hurricane Irma.

Credit: Peter Edmunds


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A view of the coral Orbicella annularis off Florida in 2006.

A view of the coral Orbicella annularis off Florida in 2006.

Credit: NOAA


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Research vessel Walton Smith moored in St. Johnís Great Lameshur Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The research vessel Walton Smith at a mooring in St. Johnís Great Lameshur Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands in November 2017.

Credit: Peter Edmunds


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Surveys in November 2017 revealed numerous broken and overturned corals from wave damage.

Surveys in November 2017 revealed numerous broken and overturned corals from wave damage.

Credit: Peter Edmunds


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Coral damage from Hurricane Irma was greater in shallow waters than in the depths.

Coral damage from Hurricane Irma was greater in shallow waters than in the depths.

Credit: Peter Edmunds


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Before the hurricanes, corals were already depleted, compared to reefs 30 years earlier.

Before the hurricanes, corals were already depleted, compared to reefs 30 years earlier.

Credit: Peter Edmunds


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