Off the northeast coast of Brazil, the hot morning sun reflects off the sea’s surface as a jangada, a traditional wooden fishing boat, sways gently in the rolling waves. There’s just enough room on the vessel for the team from Biofábrica de Corais, a coral conservation and research group, to sift through the piles of sea ginger coral fragments they’ve collected from the ocean below them.
Without any sides, the boat allows salty water from the Atlantic to lap onto the researchers as they sit cross-legged on its floor. The four are moving quickly to examine the tiny invertebrates, keeping them in plastic bins filled with ocean water to ease their stress.
Rudã Fernandes, a biologist and founder of Biofábrica de Corais, turns a fragment of coral over in his hand, holds it up in front of his face, then sets it in one of the bins. Next to him, Luis Carlos Manoel dos Santos, better known as Melado, reaches into the salty water and picks it back up. The jangadeiro, or fisherman, has lived and worked in the region his entire life, and this is his boat. Before joining the team, he used it strictly to take tourists on trips around the reef in the s... Read more