Obsessed with their own bobbles and bling, few Miamians know their city hides such natural riches. Even fewer know that these creatures are being threatened by projects such as the Deep Dredge and Beckham's soccer stadium. And problems with the Panama Canal expansion mean Miami's Deep Dredge could ultimately be all for naught.

Despite his frantic race to save as many corals as he can from certain destruction, however, Foord says he's less worried for them as a species than he is for us.

"If anything, I'd say that Miami is a heartwarming example," he says. "Miami suggests there is hope for the corals. If brain coral can live on Biscayne Boulevard, it gives me hope that they will be capable of adapting and that it's humans who are really the ones who have to start understanding that adaptation is the reality of the future.

"Corals have been around for millions of years," he says. "They've survived all of these major mass extinctions. They are still here. Humans have been building cities for 5,000 years... If sea levels continue to rise like they are, Miami is going to be a reef again soon. Then the coral will come out on top. The people will have to leave before the coral does."

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