To further understand and protect the planet's coral reefs, scientists are trying to learn more about a phenomenon known as bleaching. In order to do that, they need to get a closer look at the organisms without harming or disturbing them. According to The New York Times, a team of American and Israeli scientists has developed an ocean floor microscope capable of zooming in on coral to show details the size of a single micron, or .001 millimeters.

In a report recently published in the journal Nature Communications, the first-of-its-kind microscope is said to feature a flexible lens that can be focused while positioned inches away from coral polyps that are as tiny as 1/16 of an inch wide. The microscope operator receives live feedback from an LCD display on the back of a control unit, which is separate from the component used to view the specimen, and there is an LED ring that creates a focused light source for better visibility. The video above shows test footage shot by a diver using the microscope. Aside from being an amazing look at the organisms, it shows what happens when two different types of coral are placed next to one another (spoiler: they fight, with one type using its guts to digest the other).

Because the technology is still in its early stages, it's too soon to say exactly what scientists will learn from the microscope, but more amazing images are most certainly to come.

[h/t New York Times]

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