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1.6.16

Coral Growth on the Bottle Reef

February 2016
Photo by Basil Bohn
Corals are the oldest animals on the ocean scene; some species have been studied to live 4,000 plus years.[1] Coral life begins as a free-swimming planula larva, who is carried by the ocean currents and drifts until it finds a suitable hard surface on which to attach. After successful attachment, if they are left undisturbed and ocean conditions are right, the coral will began to build a coral colony – secreting calcium carbonate into a wild mansion of natural architectural genius which can hold thousands of coral polyps in its rooms. In an ensuing symbiotic relationship, photosynthetic zooxanthellae algae will coat the surface of the coral colonies

Of the over 25,000 species of coral, 800 are hard coral. Slow growing and complex in their lifecycle, hard corals grow anywhere in between 5mm and 20cm a year. Out of these 800 plus species, about 250 are from the branching coral family of Acropora – a lovely family which displays their unique differences both boldly through
May 2016
Photo by Basil Bohn
bright colored tips and polyps, and subtly through slight slants of polyp bunching and pattern differences.

The TRACC ribbon reef is planted with a variety of these subtly distinctive Acropora corals.  Such as the Acropora parilis, the blue tipped and branching hard coral photographed here in February and again in early May. The growth and successful attachment is pleasantly and gratifyingly visible in the less than 3 month span of the two photos.

However, ocean lovers, divers and boat drivers beware – when trying to photograph again this week, we found our lovely coral animal in two. Saddened by the sight and the possibilities of lost life, I’ll be sure to be extra careful of the tread of my footsteps and the flap of my fins.

Growth of Acropora Coral Shown Through Overlay of Photos
Photo by Basil Bohn




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