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Coral exhibit at the Hargrett

The University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries is taking visitors under the sea this spring with a display on the marine lives of coral and the scientists who study it.

Part history lesson, part ecological treasure trove, the exhibition Sunken Treasure: The Art and Science of Coral Reefs was developed by renowned UGA ecologist James W. Porter, who collected one of the most extensive assemblages of coral in the world throughout his 50-year career as a marine ecologist.

The specimens are displayed alongside rare books dating back to the 1500s to showcase scientific efforts to understand coral reefs, which house nearly one-third of all marine plant and animal species, protect land from damage from hurricanes, and provide both food and income for half a billion people.

The exhibition illustrates the changes to coral over time due to climate change and other factors, while remaining hopeful by comparing newer coral specimens to centuries-old artists’ renderings in books by scientists such as Darwin, Lamarck, Linnaeus, and Haeckel.

Sunken Treasure: The Art and Science of Coral Reefs will remain on display through July 3 in the Special Collections Libraries Building, which is located on the University of Georgia campus in Athens and is open to visitors for free daily. Porter will lead free tours the first Friday of every month at 2 p.m., and a free Family Day will take place 1 to 4 p.m. on April 13.