A team of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and academic scientists are analyzing samples of coral and surrounding sediments from an area damaged near the Deepwater Horizon site in the Gulf of Mexico. These samples, collected in December, are being used to investigate how and why the corals on these reefs died. There are many potential causes of coral death. This particular case may be related to the oil release from Deepwater. Coral colonies may live for decades or centuries. Some causes are predation by other sea creatures such as Sea Stars. Global warming is a potential cause as well as other human related activities.