Corals Turn Neon Green During Bleaching

Coral reefs are underwater rainforests that provide home for an abundance of marine life, yet are increasingly under threat due to rising ocean temperatures and environmental stresses. When corals experience stress they may undergo bleaching – an unpleasant process in which their tissues release the algae that inhabit their tissues while also exposing their white skeletons – often turning bluish-purple or pink before eventually turning neon; scientists believe these bright hues send a message of hope back into their ecosystem as part of an optical feedback loop and self-regulating feedback mechanism.

Coral bleaching has become an increasing global concern, caused by pollution, disease, overfishing and warming ocean temperatures. Its effects have been devastating to marine ecosystems and have killed entire coral colonies that provide homes to thousands of different fish species. Researchers are actively searching for ways to help reefs recover but even amid some of the worst coral bleaching ever recorded, some corals appear to be making last ditch efforts to survive.

Some corals have been observed turning neon colors, like highlighter markers, during a bleaching event. These corals are known as fluorescing coral and produce special pigments to signal to their symbiotic algae that it’s safe for them to return – helping scientists understand more about protecting these incredible ecosystems.

Researchers of this new research, published Thursday in Current Biology, discovered that in mild or brief bleaching incidents corals produce a neon sunscreen which alters the color and wavelength of light that their symbionts receive, helping prevent too much sunlight absorbing by their algae which would otherwise damage coral. Furthermore, this bright display encourages their presence to return and rebuild their relationship.

Research team discovered that Neon Green Sinularia corals could also provide this protection during bleaching events, making them popular choices in reef aquariums and available from ORA in different sizes.

ORA aquacultures neon coral instead of collecting it from the wild, making it more resistant and suitable for aquarium life as well as less likely to become infected with pests and diseases.

Nephtheas require moderate lighting conditions of 50-150 micromoles of PAR. While they can tolerate either low or high lighting levels, medium range illumination is optimal. To successfully acclimate this coral to higher light levels it must first gradually be introduced gradually over a few weeks or months. Strong water movement also assists this coral’s polyps as they retract into their waxy film that can remain for weeks before eventually being shed off again. As Nephtheas can produce toxins which inhibit other stony coral’s full growth rate it would be beneficial for them to have their own tank or section within an established reef ecosystem.

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