Kristen Marhaver

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Kristen Marhaver (born 1982) is an American marine biologist studying coral reefs and specializing in coral ecology, reproduction, and conservation.


  • Coral reefs are farmers. They provide food, income and food security for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Coral reefs are security guards. The structures that they build protect our shorelines from storm surge and waves, and the biological systems that they house filter the water and make it safer for us to work and play. Coral reefs are chemists. The molecules that we're discovering on coral reefs are increasingly important in the search for new antibiotics and new cancer drugs. And coral reefs are artists. The structures that they build are some of the most beautiful things on planet Earth. And this beauty is the foundation of the tourism industry in many countries with few or little other natural resources.
  • What's happening in the world and in the ocean has changed our time horizon. We can be incredibly pessimistic on the short term, and mourn what we lost and what we really took for granted. But we can still be optimistic on the long term, and we can still be ambitious about what we fight for and what we expect from our governments, from our planet. Corals have been living on planet Earth for hundreds of millions of years. They survived the extinction of the dinosaurs. They're badasses. An individual coral can go through tremendous trauma and fully recover if it's given a chance and it's given protection. Corals have always been playing the long game, and now so are we.

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