Fluorescent Corals

Many species of coral produce fluorescent pigments that light up in a dazzling display of neon colours when exposed to UV light.

Fluorescence is the phenomenon whereby a substance absorbs electromagnetic radiation (such as light) and emits it at a lower energy level. In this case, the corals’ fluorescent proteins absorb invisible high energy UV light and emits visible light, which has longer wavelengths and lower energy.

Scientists have hypothesised several reasons for fluorescence in corals.

Corals form symbiotic relationships with algae called zooxanthellae, which they house in their polyps. The algae photosynthesise and provide nutrients for the coral. However, the algae are not able to process UV light. Through fluorescence, the corals may be able to turn the UV light into wavelengths that are useful to the algae for photosynthesis, especially in darker environments. 

It has also been suggested that the fluorescence provides protection against UV rays, notably in shallow water. UV rays are mutagenic and are capable of damaging cells in both the coral and symbiotic algae. Fluorescence may be a means to convert UV light into harmless lower energy wavelengths in order to protect both the coral and algal cells.

Studies have shown that corals with higher concentrations of fluorescent proteins are more resistant to bleaching.

Check out more photos of fluorescent corals on flickr

© via Flickr

  1. up-in-smoke-7 reblogged this from ichthyologist
  2. shawarmashawarmashawarma reblogged this from ichthyologist
  3. nerea-amethyst reblogged this from mad-as-a-marine-biologist
  4. princeoutofwater reblogged this from holydestruction
  5. holydestruction reblogged this from ichthyologist
  6. twisting-point reblogged this from ichthyologist
  7. skyleria-papilia reblogged this from sailor-rurouni
  8. sailor-rurouni reblogged this from mad-as-a-marine-biologist
  9. the36thchamberofshaolinnegro reblogged this from naked-fame
  10. littlespinster reblogged this from naked-fame
  11. theweirdturnspro reblogged this from thatiswhenitbecameadream
  12. thatiswhenitbecameadream reblogged this from ichthyologist and added:
  13. mikasaaah reblogged this from ichthyologist
  14. amor-agua reblogged this from psherman42wallabywaysydney22
  15. bldfvr reblogged this from mad-as-a-marine-biologist
  16. spooky-spooky-skeletons reblogged this from filmsinthedarkofdawn
  17. entropytroop reblogged this from naked-fame
  18. robertbrucebannerphd reblogged this from ichthyologist
  19. cobraculture reblogged this from naked-fame
  20. di0nysius reblogged this from naked-fame
  21. zsyia reblogged this from naked-fame
  22. naked-fame reblogged this from ichthyologist
  23. soundpropeller reblogged this from spookymolecules
  24. bellemorte47 reblogged this from ichthyologist
  25. nekobakaa reblogged this from ichthyologist