The first time I cried underwater was in 2008, the island of Curacao, way down in the southern Caribbean.
It's beautiful there. I was studying these corals for my PhD,
and after days and days of diving on the same reef, I had gotten to know them as individuals.
I had made friends with coral colonies -- totally a normal thing to do.
Then, Hurricane Omar smashed them apart and ripped off their skin,
leaving little bits of wounded tissue that would have a hard time healing,
and big patches of dead skeleton that would get overgrown by algae.
When I saw this damage for the first time, stretching all the way down the reef, I sunk onto the sand in my scuba gear and I cried.
If a coral could die that fast, how could a reef ever survive?
And why was I making it my job to try to fight for them?
I never heard another scientist tell that kind of story until last year.
A scientist in Guam wrote, "I cried right into my mask," seeing the damage on the reefs.
Then a scientist in Australia wrote, "I showed my students the results of our coral surveys, and we wept."
Crying about corals is having a moment, guys.
And that's because reefs in the Pacific are losing corals faster than we've ever seen before.
Because of climate change, the water is so hot for so long in the summers, that these animals can't function normally.