Coral And Its Essence
Coral is a marine invertebrate that is found in tropical oceans. They provide reefs which sustain 25% of the fishes in the ocean. Not just that, they also prevent erosions and storms by protecting coastlines.
In fact, they serve as food and as medicines. To biodiversity, coral reefs are indeed invaluable. Over the years however, increased atmospheric temperatures have perspired into seawater or say, ocean water. This leads to a phenomenon called warming.
Warming makes corals lose their food source. Resulting in a situation known as discolouration which is technically called coral bleaching. Unmistakably, this flashes a red light to a threat directed at the benefitting ecosystems.
Animals, plants and human beings are prime targets. Well, there’s some good news. Researchers have discovered that coral reefs are in fact, alert and strengthening their defences. You might be wondering how.
Colour Morphology Of Corals
In general, coral reefs exist in a variety of colours. Nevertheless, there’s a specie of coral called Acropora tenuis which is known to be in three colours. These colours are: purple, yellow green and brown. The genius about these not so related colour families is in their genetic strengths. According to researchers, the coral’s agile resilience to high temperatures is linked to these colour morphs. And more specifically, their elemental genetic factors.
In the summer of 2017, it was realised that a sizeable number of the purple and brown morphs bleached. Showing that, some morphs bleach and then die more frequently than the others. The brown gave in to the warming faster while the yellow-green corals kept guard against the summer temperature.
At first, the differences in the resilience shown by the coral morphs were thought to be a result of the fact that the corals house different brands of symbiotic algae – which photosynthesise and provide the coral with energy. This perception did not last, however. Looking at the three-colour morphs, they were all discovered to be housing very similar algae.
The brown colour morph’s coral bleached by about 50% in the space of just one month. Purple morphs are quite more moderate. Their bleaching level can be placed between that of the green colour morph and brown morphs.
Importance of coral’s colour morphs
All these interesting variations in resilience levels of corals create images and illuminations. When mirrored, the combination of all these colours at their evolving stages would probably produce an art in the mind. And when keenly looked into, it would certainly produce a colourful array because it is an astonishingly beautiful array of colours in fact.
Though fundamental, for the sake of long-term conservation, this understanding of how corals work is inestimable. The level of involvement of the coral’s colour morphology can be measured in the way it responds to high temperatures. And certainly, future research will quench curiosity thirst on how exactly the green corals’ protein be-shields the symbiosis.