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Soft-coral reefs in Virgin Islands NP recovering from 2017 hurricanes, but stony corals struggling

After Hurricanes Irma and Maria delivered a one-two punch to Virgin Islands National Park in September 2017, the impacts to the park's coral reefs were significant. While research indicates that soft corals at the park are recovering, there has been a great decline in stony corals such as elkhorn corals that are the primary reef builders.

Researchers led by a University of Buffalo marine ecologist studied soft corals at three sites in the U.S. Virgin Islands. They found those corals were able to recover from the destructive effects of nearly back-to-back Category 5 storms in 2017, but the story of these apparently hardy communities of colorful marine life is part of a larger, rapidly shifting narrative surrounding the future of coral reefs.

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