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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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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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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What Lies Beneath – Reef-Building Coral Polyps

WE’VE ALL HAD IT INSTILLED FIRMLY IN OUR CONSCIOUSNESS that coral reefs are living organisms. But, faced with the colorful, solid structures that we see when we go underwater, what does that actually mean? Those rock-like surfaces aren’t living substances themselves, but hard facades of calcium carbonate – essentially, limestone. The living animals – tiny soft coral polyps with slender tentacles – are ensconced underneath, protected by the cup-shaped calcium-based corallites they’ve manufactured. TINY, THIN

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