Ruth Gates, renowned coral scientist and conservation advocate, dies at 56

WASHINGTON — Ruth Gates, a preeminent coral-reef biologist and marine conservationist best remembered for advocating the breeding of a ‘‘super coral’’ that could resist the effects of global warming and replenish rapidly deteriorating reefs worldwide, died Oct. 25 at a hospital in Kailua, Hawaii. She was 56.

The Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, which she directed and is part of the University of Hawaii Manoa, announced the death. The cause was complications related to treatment for brain cancer, said her wife, Robin Burton-Gates.

Dr. Gates grew up in England and said she first became transfixed by coral reefs through the color TV films of sea explorer Jacques Cousteau. ‘‘Even though Cousteau was coming through the television, he unveiled the oceans in a way that nobody else had been able to,’’ she told the New Yorker in 2016.

By 11, she said she knew she wanted to be a marine biologist. She went on to obtain a doctorate in marine biology, publish dozens of scientific papers, and, in 2015, become the first woman elected president of the International Society for Reef Studies. She also appeared in the Emmy-winning Netflix documentary ‘‘Chasing Coral’’ (2017) and became a frequent commentator in the media on reef conservation as well as the effects of climate change.

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