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Slime Dwellers

A blanket seeded with microbes appears critical to coral health

Put on your snorkel gear and get close to coral—really close—and you can spy a thin layer of surface slime. Produced continually, and often in prodigious amounts, this mucus can be anything from a thick, soupy liquid to gummy gel. Corals expend significant energy making and replenishing these water-soluble jackets, but scientists have struggled to understand the payoff for this effort.

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