Chicago's Shedd Aquarium hosts nearly 2 million visitors each year, but few people know about its other vital role: working to save the world's coral reefs. 

Metaphorically, they are canaries in the climate-change coal mine. Literally, they are staghorn coral and scientists and researchers from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium are in the Bahamas to identify the hardiest, most heat-resistant specimens — a knowledge made desperately necessary by Earth’s already rapidly warming oceans.

The Shedd is one of Chicago’s most popular attractions. But few of its nearly 2 million annual visitors know it is also performing vitally important and profoundly challenging coastal research in an effort to save what many call the “rainforests of the sea.”

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