Young'uns adrift on the sea

Scientists try to identify and track elusive larvae in a boundless ocean

By Susan Milius, 08:04 AM December 30, 2010

Steve Simpson is gearing up his lab for research he dismissed as loony just two years ago: studying how coral larvae, mere squiggles of still-developing tissue, respond to sound.

He hadn’t expected corals — that is, the simple, tiny animals that build coral skeletons — to even have a way of detecting noises. “They’re kind of lecture two in invertebrate biology,” says Simpson, of the University of Bristol in England.

Most of his earlier work had focused on larval reef fishes, which unlike c...

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