Rainbow of Fluorescent Corals Found

Fluorescent CoralsDeep beneath the waves of the Red Sea, scientists have discovered corals that fluoresce in a range of colors, likely because it helps their algae friends.

Deep beneath the surface of the Red Sea, a rainbow of glowing corals have been discovered that’s unlike anything scientists have ever seen.”I was indeed surprised to find such a great color diversity at these greater depths,” said Jörg Wiedenmann, a marine biologist at the U.K.’s University of Southampton.

Wiedenmann was especially amazed because the shallow-water corals on the same reef only give off a green color. (See more stunning coral pictures.)

Corals generally get their glow from fluorescent pigments that act as sunblock. The sun’s intense rays, which can sunburn swimmers and divers that flock to these reefs, cause similar damage to coral and zooxanthellae, the symbiotic algae that lives inside coral.

Although bright sunlight at shallow depths can make the pigments hard to see with the naked eye, they can be visible if the coral makes lots of them, says Wiedenmann, who led a new study on the corals published June 24 in PLOS ONE.

Though these pigments are well studied, scientists hadn’t looked much at fluorescence in deeper dwelling corals, since they’re not as exposed to sunlight.

Which begs the question: Why were the Red Sea corals so colorful?

source : http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/150629-glowing-fluorescent-corals-science/

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