A Newly Discovered Coral Reef on America’s Doorstep

A NEWLY DISCOVERED CORAL REEF off the U.S.’s mid-Atlantic coast  stretches for some 85 miles, dense with stony Lophelia pertusa, a branching deep-sea, cold-water coral. A half-mile below the ocean surface, the “new” reef has “mountains” of coral, according to researchers. It’s situated about 160 miles off Charleston, S.C. DEEP SEARCH – A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY The newly discovered coral reef was identified by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies as

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Corals Eating Jellyfish: Who’d Have Thunk It.”

AT FIRST PASS, “CORALS EATING JELLYFISH” SOUNDS LIKE AN OXYMORON. But newly published research confirms that for at least one variety of stony corals, the concept of corals eating jellyfish is indeed a reality. Moreover, these tiny colonial animals appear to work together to capture and devour the much larger jellies. It’s the first described case of “protocooperation” among corals, say the authors of the article published in the journal Ecology. NORMALLY CARNIVORES, ANYWAY Coral polyps

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Black Coral: Many Colors – But Rarely Black

BLACK CORALS ARE PROBABLY BEST KNOWN AS SHINY, JET BLACK JEWELRY, but in their underwater habitats as living coral they’re more likely to be found in shades of soft reds, greens, yellows and other colors. They’re not stony corals – they grow in complex linear structures resembling trees, bushes or sea fans. The “black” part is the protein-based chitin that comprises the skeletons on which dense colonies of identical, individual polyps reside. In other words,

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Orange Cup Corals: Bold, Dramatic, Invasive

 ORANGE CUP CORAL (TUBASTRAEA COCCINEA) HAS ALWAYS BEEN ONE OF MY FAVORITES. I’ve always liked its style – big, bold and dramatic. It’s what it is despite (or because of) the fact that doesn’t have the photosynthetic boost that helps reef-building corals thrive. That still holds. Not mentioned in the I.D. guides is an additional aspect – in the Atlantic/Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico basin, it’s an invasive species from the Pacific. The staff at Flower Garden

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Robust Source Reefs Offer Hope for the Great Barrier Reef

NEWS ABOUT AUSTRALIA’S GREAT BARRIER REEF is usually dire, but a team of scientists studying the reef have found a ray of hope: Some GBR sections are resilient segments that are in position to support regeneration of damaged areas. ROBUST SOURCE REEFS   Far from being a monolith, the GBR is composed of more than 3,800 interconnected reefs. About 100 of them are capable of functioning as “robust source reefs” that can produce coral larvae likely

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Sea Fans, Rods & Plumes: Thinking Outside the Calyx

NOBODY GOES TO THE TROPICS TO SEE GORGONIANS. The sea fans, plumes, rods and whips that make up Order Gorgonacea are just there, incidental bystanders on the “real” reefs of beautiful, stony corals. Sometimes, they’re in the way. While none of the 500 or so species of fans, plumes, rods or whips can compare to the exquisite beauty that hard corals achieve (although some sea fans make a good effort), they’re part of the broad

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Corallite, Polyp, Zooxanthellae

Corallite (kawr’–uh-lahyt)  The calcium carbonate exo-skeleton of a coral polyp. Polyp (pol’-ip)  With regard to coral reefs, a tiny, colonial, sac-like animal fixed to a substrate and protected by a calcium carbonate external skeleton.  Zooxanthellae (zoh-uh-zan-thel’-ee)  Symbiotic dinoflagellate algae embedded in the tissues of coral polyps that perform photosynthesis to produce nutrients shared with the host polyps. A major factor in the growth of reef-building corals.

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In Deep Waters, Corals Glow to Grow

CORALS’ ABILITY TO GLOW WITH FLUORESCENT LIGHT has been known for some time. The understanding with shallow water corals has been that fluorescent proteins absorb harmful ultraviolet rays, protecting the zooxanthellae algae that provide them with significant nutrition through photosynthesis (See “Corals’ Colors Are More Than Just Eye Candy”). IN DEEP WATERS, A DIFFERENT STRATEGY Now scientists have found that corals in deep waters, which receive very little solar energy, use different colors for a

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Corals’ Colors Are More Than Just Eye Candy

ONE OF THE WONDERS OF TROPICAL REEFS IS THE DAZZLING ARRAY OF COLORS EXHIBITED BY THE CORALS that constitute the foundation of reefs. Coralheads sitting side by side on a reef can display different colors and different shades and intensities of the same colors. New research has indicated that, rather than random phenomena for dramatic effect, corals’ variations in color involve genetic factors that help protect the symbiotic algae – zooxanthellae – embedded in coral

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Soft Corals – Undersea Wildflowers

As opposed to the sometimes-use of the term “soft coral” for everything that isn’t a stony coral, “soft corals” is also the informal name for a specific type of animal in the order Alcyonacea. Individually only millimeters in width and height, they form colonial structures that resemble multibranched  trees, presenting a delicate, feathery appearance. They’ve been dubbed “undersea wildflowers.” Alcyonacea polyps (al-see-nay‘-see-ah, from the Greek word for kingfisher) are like all coral polyps, with symmetrically

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