Colorful Close-Ups From a Remote Coral Reef

Kike Ballesteros has been the Pristine Seas team expert on coral and algae since the beginning.

Now, diving on the current expedition to Niue Island, a raised coral atoll in the South Pacific, Kike reveals some of his most colorful and finely detailed images yet of the strange and beautiful creatures that call the bottom of the ocean home.

And lest you think that algae and coral are just a pretty backdrop for all the glorious fish, see what Kike had to say on an earlier expedition, explaining how these tiny life forms are responsible for feeding the ocean and building the beach.

[Updated 10/3/16. Earlier text mistakenly called Niue “the world’s largest coral atoll.” Lifou Island in New Caledonia is the largest.]

Expedition Leader Paul Rose’s First Post From Niue

Changing Planet


Meet the Author
Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.