Once underwater, the microscope, which can adjust like a very powerful human eye, takes some pretty glorious images and footage of individual coral polyps, the building blocks of the reefs that we all know and love, without disturbing them.
Researchers want to better understand how corals behave while in their environment, in part because their environment is changing so dramatically. Coral bleaching, which occurs when warm waters force corals to eject their algae symbionts, is occuring at an unprecedented rate, and to top it all off, reefs are getting infected with herpes and other viruses.
The hope is that eventually, if researchers can understand how corals live in the wild, they might be able to conserve them. But first, they need a closer look.