coral reef animals
Survival of coral reefs requires radical rethink of what conservation means, say scientists
Reef conservation must not be an attempt to restore reefs of the past, but to identify the parts essential to their continued existence, and protect those
By Michael Slezak

The survival of coral reefs requires a radical rethink of what conservation means, as well as embracing some of the changes they are undergoing, according to a paper by leading coral reef scientists.

“Helping coral reefs to safely navigate the Anthropocene is a profound challenge for multiscale governance,” the scientists say in a paper published today in the journal Nature.

They argue reef conservation must no longer be seen as an attempt to restore reefs of the past, or conserve their existing values, but rather to identify the parts of reefs that are essential to their continued existence, and protect those.

The paper comes amid increased urgency from conservationists and reef managers around the world, sparked by the worst global bleaching event in recorded history. It caused mass die-offs in every major coral reef region of the world. On the Great Barrier Reef alone, it is estimated that about half the coral was killed in 2016 and 2017.

In the paper, the scientists argue saving the world’s reefs requires the acceptance that the reefs of the future will look very different to those of today, and humans may need to help them adapt – perhaps by intervening to increase the proportion of coral species that are tolerant to rising temperatures…

ecosystems coral reef

diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals. Coral reefs are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps belong to a group of animals known as Cnidaria, which also includes sea anemones and jellyfish.

Corals are Awesome !

It is difficult to imagine corals as animals. They are colorful and immobile. They grows like fungus and sometimes looks like a strange alien plant.

The corals are cnidarians just like jellyfishes. Yes, they are closely related with the jellies !

We know that a jellyfish can sting. Like them some corals can also have mild stings. These species of corals can catch small fishes and sea invertebrates to eat by using their tiny poison spears.

Actually, a coral is a colony of thousands of small polyps. These polyps are joined with each other by exoskeletons.

There are many types of corals. All of these can be grouped into two main categories - hard and soft coral. The hard corals have a hard, rock like exoskeleton made of calcium carbonate. They are less colorful than their soft cousins. Brain coral is a type of hard coral.

The soft coral has a soft exoskeleton. They can move and is quiet flexible.

Feel free to give your opinions or ask anything regarding corals.

Montipora Coral

Montipora is a genus of coral. It looks like underwater flowers or bowls. These types of corals have plates that covers the rocky sea beds.

The coral can be found in the reefs of the northern Indian ocean and the eastern Pacific.

Dinoflagella is a protozoa that lives in symbiosis with the montipora. That protozoa can produce food like plants from sunlight. Dinoflagella shares the food with the coral as a house rent. It also add to the color variations of different montipora species by supplying the green and yellow tint.


Fluorescent Corals

Many species of coral produce fluorescent pigments that light up in a dazzling display of neon colours when exposed to UV light.

Fluorescence is the phenomenon whereby a substance absorbs electromagnetic radiation (such as light) and emits it at a lower energy level. In this case, the corals’ fluorescent proteins absorb invisible high energy UV light and emits visible light, which has longer wavelengths and lower energy.

Scientists have hypothesised several reasons for fluorescence in corals.

Corals form symbiotic relationships with algae called zooxanthellae, which they house in their polyps. The algae photosynthesise and provide nutrients for the coral. However, the algae are not able to process UV light. Through fluorescence, the corals may be able to turn the UV light into wavelengths that are useful to the algae for photosynthesis, especially in darker environments. 

It has also been suggested that the fluorescence provides protection against UV rays, notably in shallow water. UV rays are mutagenic and are capable of damaging cells in both the coral and symbiotic algae. Fluorescence may be a means to convert UV light into harmless lower energy wavelengths in order to protect both the coral and algal cells.

Studies have shown that corals with higher concentrations of fluorescent proteins are more resistant to bleaching.

Check out more photos of fluorescent corals on flickr

© via Flickr
These scientists studying coral reefs were brought to tears -- but in a good way
As ocean warming continues to trigger widespread destruction of coral reefs, a decade-long study of remote islands in the Central Pacific suggests these biodiversity hot spots may thrive despite the threats posed by an increasingly hotter planet...
By Los Angeles Times

In a massive project spanning 56 islands, researchers examined 450 coral reef locations from Hawaii to American Samoa, with stops in the remote Line and Phoenix islands as well as the Mariana Archipelago. Their results — published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B — show that coral reefs surrounding remote islands were dramatically healthier than those in populated areas that were subject to a variety of human influences…