In this picture taken on March 28, 2017, scientists prepare to go on a dive after launching their small boats from the 120-tonne French schooner Tara near Shikinejima island, 150 kilometers south of central Tokyo. / AFP / TORU YAMANAKA /
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The key to the survival of the world's threatened coral reefs may lie in the waters surrounding a small volcanic island off the coast of Japan, scientists say.The seabed of Shikine island is a "living laboratory" for researchers aboard the schooner Tara, a French-led scientific expedition, who are looking for clues to help protect coral from the damaging effects of climate change.While coral reefs cover less than 0.2 percent of the ocean surface globally, they host some 30 percent of marine animal and plant species, serving as a source of food and offering protection from predators.Researchers say the waters in parts of Shikine, located 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Tokyo, offer a glimpse of how marine life -- including corals -- can fare in less alkaline water.Early comparisons with another bay on Shikine that boasts vastly different conditions suggest corals do much better in more alkaline water.
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