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Coral reefs: The rainforests of the sea

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This beautifully shot film captures the colorful chaos of the coral reef ecosystem, explores the heart-breaking reality of coral bleaching as corals surrender to the relentless impacts of climate change, and importantly, delves into the novel science that’s giving the future of coral reefs some hope.

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Coral reefs are built by mixotrophs, animals that are also plants. Corals are not only neither autotroph nor heterotroph, they are also neither female nor male. They provide habitat for over a quarter of the world’s fish species including the colorful ecosystem engineers that are parrotfish. Another notable group of ecosystem engineers inhabiting coral reefs are sea cucumbers. And humans also depend on them in various ways. Protected areas play a key role in conserving coral reefs, but diseases, eutrophication, ocean acidification and ocean warming remain a looming threat. But corals are not the only reef builders under threat. There are also shellfish reefs which fulfill similar ecosystem services.

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