|Drilling equipment (yellow boxes) ready to be loaded|
on SeaDragon. Photo by Tom deCarlo
Finding corals to drill may prove to be our most difficult task. Few survive the centuries it takes to build meter-tall colonies. Bioeroders—organisms like some clams and sponges that dissolve coral skeleton to build their homes—excavate the base of the colony until it eventually topples over. Macroalgae can overgrow coral colonies. Sometimes warm ocean temperatures stress a coral and cause it to die. The corals that survive all this can be few and far between, but they are the ones we need to find.
Spirits are high as the preparations come to an end and the challenging, yet fun and exciting expedition is about to begin.