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Coral County

A Web Comic Exploring Ocean Science

Welcome to the Home of Coral County! 

'Coral County' follows the adventures of our ocean friends! Join Mr. & Mrs. Crab, and parrotfish as they live and learn about their home, Coral County.


By by artist Brianna E. Leahy & scientists Rebecca Vega Thurber & Ryan McMinds of the Vega Thurber Laboratory.

'Coral County' is Interactive

Learn more with fact-hide-and-seek and talking points to continue the conversation & learning! Freely accessible for classroom showings; teachers & their students can enjoy this learning adventure!

Look for Treasure!

...There are hidden treasures of science knowledge in each episode! Can you find them all? On a computer, move your mouse slowly over the comic to make them appear! Click the hint to learn even more!

Discuss & Learn!

...At the end of each comic, look for the "Now you know" section! What did you learn? You can talk with friends and challenge their knowledge! Always ask your friends & teachers about any questions you have!

Comic #1 Anchor

Did you find the treasure?

...Hidden in this episode:  

coral, parrotfish, algae, Trapezia crab, ... 

Hint:  Drag your computer mouse slowly over the comic & make the treasures of knowledge appear!

Now you know!...

  • ...That parrotfish eat corals and large algae! 

  • The parrotfish help protect the corals by keeping algae from overgrowing the corals' space. 

  • The Trapezia crabs are very thankful that their corals are happy, because they call some corals home!

  • They all work together for a happy, healthy "Coral County" community.

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To learn more, go to:  

Discuss & Learn! Episode #1:

Comic #2 Anchor

Did you find the treasure?

...Hidden in this episode:  

Acropora coral, spinner dolphin, overfishing, turf algae, Sargassum ...

Hint:  Drag your computer mouse slowly over the comic & make the treasures of knowledge appear!

Now you know!...

  • ...About the impact of overfishing!

  • When too many fish are taken from the reef, it negatively affects the balance of the ecosystem.

  • Without the fish to eat the algae, the algae can overgrow corals, making the corals unhealthy.

  • If the fish populations are restored quickly, the reef can recover!! Fish eat the algae, slowing the algae's growth, which helps the corals be healthy again!

To learn more, go to:  

Discuss & Learn! Episode #2:

Comic #3 Anchor

Did you find the treasure?

...Hidden in this episode:  

Montipora coral, Pocillopora coral, Platygyra daedalea coral, coral polyp, tardigrade, Symbiodinium, coral bleaching,

& a (bonus) science "pun" ...

Hint:  Drag your computer mouse slowly over the comic & make the treasures of knowledge appear! 

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Now you know!...

  • ... About the importance of Symbiodinium to coral health!

  • Corals & Symbiodinium need each other to stay healthy.

  • When the water is too hot, it stresses the corals, so they expel their Symbiodinium helpers! Corals who don't have any Symbiodinium living in them turn clear & white, and are called "bleached" corals.

  • These sick, bone-white corals can only get better if the water cools down again, and their Symbiodinium helpers come back to live inside them.

  • And of course, you learned there are amazing creatures called tardigrades!

To learn more, go to:  

Discuss & Learn! Episode #3:

the end!

Coming soon:

'Coral County' Comics translated in Portuguese, & Dutch

Look forward for future releases in:

Spanish & French

About the Project:  Coral County

A science outreach project by by artist Brianna E. Leahy 

& scientists Rebecca Vega Thurber & Ryan McMinds of the Vega Thurber Laboratory, Oregon State University.

Our Goal:  To expand the understanding of marine life & the ocean environment, with a little fun!

The 'Coral County' web comic series strives to introduce and expand marine science knowledge to a wide audience, with the hope to inspire young people to take interest in ocean health and marine science! Our mini-series takes readers into the ocean and follows a cast of marine creatures as they learn together about important topics in marine science and ocean health.


Each topic presented in the comic is directly correlated with current research conducted by the Vega Thurber Laboratory at Oregon State University. To share their laboratory's current research with a greater public audience, Dr. Rebecca Vega Thurber and PHD Student Ryan McMinds worked together with artist Brianna E. Leahy to create 'Coral County'! Every step of the way, scientist & artist worked together to give you an accurate representation of research topics being explored in the world's oceans today.

CC About the Project

Features & Appearances


Permanent Showing, Nash Hall

Nash Hall, 2820 SW Campus Way, Corvallis, OR 97331

'Coral County' has a permanent showing in Nash Hall, 2nd Floor.

Department of Microbiology, Oregon State University.

Summer 2017 - Present


Featured in "Saving Atlantis" Website

Saving Atlantis Website, Oregon State University

'Coral County' comics are featured in the film "Saving Atlantis's" website, under "Classroom Activities & Resources" 

February 2018 - Present


CC Meet the Authors

Meet the Authors:

The 'Coral County' web comic series is a collaboration between scientists & artists. The project is based in Corvallis, Oregon, but is based on international science projects and translated by native speakers.

Dr. Rebecca Vega Thurber

Scientific Authority & Producer

As the project lead, Dr. Rebecca Vega Thurber invited artist Brianna Leahy to create this web comic for scientific outreach. Their goal? To expand the audience of her research to budding scientists, with a little fun! Dr. Rebecca Vega Thurber guided the focus of the comic's content around her laboratory's research.


To learn more about Dr. Vega Thurber, her research and her laboratory, visit their laboratory's website by clicking here.

Brianna E. Leahy

Artist, Writer, & Webmaster

Creating "Coral County" through creative writing and visual design presented a unique artistic opportunity. In "Coral County" readers are introduced to scientific concepts in a lighthearted manner as they follow life events of the lovable residents of Coral County.

To create scientific content with accuracy and relevance, Brianna worked closely with Dr. Rebecca Vega Thurber and Ryan McMinds. Together, the team shared ideas, visual representations of the science, and dialogue ideas to create the final comic seen here! See her portfolio website.

Ryan McMinds

Scientific Resource, Writer, & Editor

Part of the Vega Thurber Laboratory, Ryan is a PhD candidate currently studying corals from around the world. His research focuses on the health of corals in relation to their symbionts.


To learn more about Ryan McMinds, his research and the Vega Thurber Laboratory, visit their laboratory's website by clicking here.

Special Thanks:

A special "Thank You" to everyone who helped us bounce ideas off of them, who proof-read early drafts, and to those who used their scientific expertise to give us great feedback to furthering our scientific accuracy!

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