Biodiversity #7 – Coral

Biodiversity #7 – Coral.  Very simply: little polyps 1-3mm across (bit like jelly fish without tentacles), convert sunlight into energy and excrete some calcium carbonate – which is what builds the reef that they live in. Coral often looks ‘dead’ – but once the polyps are feeding, you realise that even those disk corals that look like upside down mushrooms, are actually alive.

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Here’s another one of of brain coral. A really good reason not to pick stuff up, or drag your contents gauge or fins over what looks like rock – because if it’s coral it is very much alive.

Brain coral with feeders out at Hardy Reef diving Whitsundays DPI

Major threats include sea temperature rises, causing bleaching effects where the polyps leave their limestone homes; and ocean acidification (acid dissolves limestone) caused by the oceans absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere. There is some more lovely coral pix from Hardy Reef in the Whitsundays here.

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