Imagine if the reefs of the world, once coated by colorful corals, suddenly became bare. What would it mean for humanity?

I reached out to Dr. Stuart Sandin of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography to learn more about coral reefs. These complex ecosystems are threatened by human activities like overfishing, pollution, and climate change.

In an interesting twist, we can learn a lot about the paleoclimate by studying corals. Ironically, the very organisms that can teach us about climate science are being threatened by climate change.

Learn more about coral reef conservation by clicking the link below and watching the video above. And join the discussion in the comments section below. Come on, talk nerdy to me!

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  • NEW SPECIES: Pterapsaron longipinnis - A deep reef species (below 60m depth) discovered in Cendrawasih Bay in West Papua; the name refers to the unusually long pelvic fins which this fish uses to rest on the bottom in tripod-like fashion.

  • NEW SPECIES: Aspasmichthys alorensis - a tiny clingfish known only from the Alor Strait in SE Indonesia - an area renowned for ferocious currents. This species was found while the authors were sheltering from a raging current in a rock depression at 16m.

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: Cirrhitichthys guichenoti - rare deep water hawkfish previously known only from the Western Indian Ocean; photographed here in Alor region of Indonesia.

  • NEW SPECIES: Lepidichthys akiko - a beautiful candy-striped clingfish known only from deep reefs of Cendrawasih Bay in West Papua.

  • NEW SPECIES: Pentapodus komodoensis - A small coral bream with a blazing gold stripe known only from the Komodo islands in Indonesia.

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: Eviota rubriceps - a recently described (2011) dwarf goby; example of one of the many recently described species covered in the book.

  • NEW SPECIES: Pseudanthias mica - A beautiful fairy basslet known only from a single deep reef off the southern Indonesian island of Lembata; named after the second author's daughter.

  • NEW SPECIES: Parapercis bimacula - A strikingly coloured, red spotted sand perch known only from southern Indonesia (Sumatra to Komodo) and west to the Andaman islands of India; easily observable by snorkellers in shallow depths of 2-8m.

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: Histiophryne psychedelica - never before published photograph of the recently described "psychedelic frog fish" male incubating eggs attached to its side.

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: Priolepis nocturna - a highly cryptic and rarely seen reef goby; example of the extensive coverage of over 500 species of gobies and blennies in the book.

  • NEW SPECIES: Ptereleotris rubristigma - a beautiful blue dart fish named for the prominent red spot on the gill cover; widespread throughout the East Indies region and found on soft bottoms exposed to currents.

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: Rhinopias eschmeyeri - the beautifully coloured Eschmeyer's scorpionfish; the book covers all 54 scorpionfishes known from the East Indies.

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: Synchiropus tudorjonesi - The recently described (2012) Tudor Jones' dragonet (male and female); the book includes a large number of fishes only described in the past 1-2 years and not included in other identification guides.

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: Synchiropus splendidus - an unusual shot of a pair of magnificently coloured mandarinfish caught in the act of spawning.

  • NEW SPECIES: Tryssogobius sarah - A delicate fairy goby with iridescent blue eyes known from deep (40-70m) reefs around the region; named after Ms. Sarah Crow, an aspiring young marine biologist who accompanied the second author on dives in Raja Ampat that collected this species.

  • NEW SPECIES: Grallenia baliensis - a delicate, miniscule sand goby found on the slopes of NE Bali during a CI marine survey in 2011; named after the island of Bali.

  • NEW SPECIES: Acentrogobius cendrawasih - a rare goby known only from a single silty gully off the Wandammen Peninsula in Cendrawasih Bay; unusual in that it lives at about 30m depth, far deeper than other members of this genus that are usually found above 10m.

  • NEW SPECIES: Grallenia baliensis - a delicate, miniscule sand goby found on the slopes of NE Bali during a CI marine survey in 2011; named after the island of Bali.

  • NEW SPECIES: Tomiyamichthys gomezi - A beautiful shrimp goby that lives commensally with snapping shrimp; named after Dr. Edgardo Gomez, former Director of the Marine Sciences Institute at the University of the Philippines for his invaluable contributions to marine sciences.

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: Brachysomophis cirrocheilos - rarely photographed predation scene of snake eel eating a flounder larger than its mouth.

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: Antennarius commersoni - rarely photographed sequence of frogfish spawning and then releasing a floating egg raft.

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: Opistognathus dendriticus - an unusual shot of the Philippines giant jawfish showing why this group of fishes received this common name.

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: Pteroidichthys amboinensis - an unusually coloured specimen of the Ambon scorpionfish, a bizarre-looking fish with giant "eyebrows"!

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: Signigobius biocellatus - another spectacular example of the over 500 gobies and blennies covered in the book.

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: a rarely documented image of a lizardfish preying upon an orange-lined triggerfish Balistapus undulatus.

  • NON-NEW SPECIES: Valenciennea wardi - yet another example of the highly diverse and frequently beautifully coloured (but mostly overlooked) goby fauna.

  • Authors at work photographing a new species in Cendrawasih Bay.

  • Also On The Huffington Post...

    Coral reefs are the most diverse marine ecosystem. They provide other marine species with food and shelter and provide us with food, income and leisure. But coral reefs are in danger - 75 per cent of them are threatened by overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, ocean acidification and climate change.