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Two years ago, Alizée Zimmermann could hardly name more than a few species of coral. But as a native of Turks and Caicos and a scuba instructor with thousands of dives under her belt, she knew something was wrong when she saw some of the islands’ oldest and largest corals disintegrating before her eyes.

“I saw a 20 foot tall pillar coral, probably two-, three-hundred years old, just peeling like if someone had poured acid over it,” she described later. She said her eyes welled with tears. “It was apocalyptic.”

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