In large depths corals create their own sunlight

Many animal species living in deep seas where they reach very little sunlight have to develop special survival mechanisms. It is well known that corals have beautiful, fluorescent colors and live in algae communities. However, there are corals that live in great depths and which, in spite of this, have a bright orange and red color.

Photo: J. Wiedenmann

In a study published in the journal scientists have been able to reveal their secret adaptation to the dark environment. Biologists from Southampton University from Great Britain have come to the notice that corals shine in order to get more sunlight.

Head of study biologist prof. Joerg Wiedenmann explained that the proteins found in the corals absorb the little light that can reach them and then shine the same light orange-red. This light penetrates deep into their tissue where their allies, ie sea algae, live. Then alga produces energy and corals.

Photo: J. Wiedenmann

Millions of years have survived algae corals. The corals provide shelter and protection, and algae transforms light into food. Deep in their tissue there are small proteins that absorb the sunlight and turn it into a green shiny shield. Thus corals living directly below the sea surface can protect themselves from strong sunlight.

For two decades, scientists have considered the idea that deep coral corals could protect the coral from the shallow sea during a great heat. They thought the smaller coral larvae could survive long enough in depth to send the offspring closer to the surface when temperatures normalize. But, prof. Wiedenmann thinks they could not adapt to light conditions.

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