Did you know that some corals GLOW under ultra-violet light? Well they do! And last night some of us at A Rocha Kenya set out to see the amazing phenomenon for ourselves.
Conditions were perfect for some late-night rock pooling, so we headed out to the pools we knew had a lot of coral, and armed with torches and a small UV light. We were not disappointed! The corals glowed spectacularly, and we even saw some moray eels and a Spanish Dancer nudibranch as well!
To be truly accurate, it’s not actually the coral itself that is fluorescing (giving off light), it is the zooxanthellae living IN the coral! Tiny little algae live with coral and give it its color during the day, and some re-emit light to get spectacular displays like this. The coral and the zooxanthellae rely on each other to live: essentially, the zooxanthellae provides food and the coral provides shelter. Without that relationship, we wouldn’t have beautiful coral reefs, or nighttime displays like this!
People don’t know exactly why this “glowing coral” phenomenon happens, but there are a lot of interesting theories. One theory is that the fluorescent molecules work sort of like sunscreen!
Whatever the reason, we certainly are lucky at Mwamba that all of this is right in our own back yard.