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The Coral Kingdom

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Captain Cook sailing into danger along the Great Barrier Reef; Darwin wondering at the diversity of life and the way reefs formed and grew; Dana envisioning the life cycle of coral reefs from first early growth around the fringes of emerging volcanic islands to the final submergence of atolls becoming flat-topped guyots as they sink below the waves; the coral reefs of the Pacific are part of the lore and legend of the scientific exploration and discovery of this most vast of oceanic basins. But besides scientific exploration, there was also the commercial exploration of Yankee captains searching for beche-de-mer (the sea-cucumber or holothurians), a supposed aphrodisiac; the search for the mighty sperm whales; and then the more benign surveying of the seas by cable ships and government surveyors that led to the discovery of many more coral reefs. Some of these discoveries were accidental resulting in an unfortunate ship lending its name to its last resting place on some remote coral reef; others, as in the case of the surveyors and cable ships, were looking for obstructions to navigation and the best route for laying of cables. Like the Caribbean, the growth of coral reef tourism has been a phenomenon of the past fifty years. Join the NOAA Photo Library in viewing some of the wonders of the coral reefs of the Pacific; visit the links above to understand more of the science and problems of coral reefs today …

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The Coral Kingdom ~ Pacific Reefs Albums

sea turtle


artificial reef
An Artificial



marine life

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Last Updated:
September 30, 2009