Coral reef herpes? Mystery illness explained. | WBEZ
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Herpes in coral reefs: A natural wonder - of survival

A coral reef ecosystem at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. (Flickr/USFWS Pacific)

"Herpes infection threatens thousands of students flocking to scenic beaches this spring break," proclaimed a post on Discovery's website (and prompting many to wonder where this story was going...). But, it goes on to say, "at the same time, offshore from those tropical paradises, coral reefs may face an even greater threat from herpes viruses."

"We were shocked to find that so many coral viruses were in the herpes family," said one researcher, explaining that this discovery might actually explain away many coral illnesses that were previously misunderstood.

But as comedian Ross Bryant points out, herpes "is a natural wonder in it’s own right. A wonder of survival." Read an excerpt or listen:

"The first thing you see is the color. Everything is so colorful. A shimmering indistinct mass of bottle-glass green, orange, electric violet and deeper-than-blood red. See it radiating with a reflected sunlight that warps and dances through the tropical water that surrounds it. As it comes into focus, see it burst into motion as schools of neon fish churn about, like flocks of birds swirling over a psychedelic mountain-range. See the urchins, anemones, and eels undulate and wave, waiting to feed on the passersby. Move closer and see the detail of the coral's surface, not one stoney mass, but a riot of colorful textural variety. The David Cronenberg by way of Lisa Frank masses of purple brain coral, rose pink carnation coral, day-glo bunches of bubble coral. A surreal neptunian palace.

Gaze at this wonder. Like all of you, it is alive. And like a huge proportion of you, it has herpes.

The herps.

Bear with this."

The Paper Machete is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 p.m., it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Get all your The Paper Machete Radio Magazine needs filled here, or download the podcast from iTunes here.

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