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Corals may fare better in turbid waters, Florida Tech research finds

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MELBOURNE, FLA. — New research from Florida Institute of Technology scientists Chris Cacciapaglia and Rob van Woesik shows that corals may survive better in warm oceans where the water is clouded by floating particles.

Coral reefs, the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet, are under increasing stress and are dying in many parts of the world as the oceans continue to warm. When high levels of sunlight combine with unnaturally warm temperatures, the corals don't have much of a chance.

Cacciapaglia and van Woesik's study, appearing in the December issue of Global Change Biology, shows that moderate levels of turbidity – cloudy water – could lower stress by shading the corals from extremely high light.

"We've identified refuges from climate change, where naturally turbid environments will reduce the temperature stress predicted for 2100," Cacciapaglia said.

The study highlights locations where turbidity will help corals survive. "Naturally turbid environments may be among the few places where coral species survive in a warmer climate" said van Woesik.

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