For the last five years, Dr. Pim Bongaerts of University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute has been documenting the lives of corals through time-lapse photography. It all happens too slowly for the human eye, but capturing life in a coral reef over longer periods of time reveals much more about their growth, locomotion, and even their violent competition with each other. The video above is from BBC News: Underwater time-lapse shows secret life of a coral reef.
Corals actually comprise an ancient and unique partnership, called symbiosis, that benefits both animal and plant life in the ocean. Corals are animals, though, because they do not make their own food, as plants do. Corals have tiny, tentacle-like arms that they use to capture their food from the water and sweep into their inscrutable mouths.
Any structure that we call a “coral” is, in fact, made up of hundreds to thousands of tiny coral creatures called polyps…
This is a male Sapphirina copepod or Sea Sapphire, transparent and only a few millimeters long, but attention-grabbing when they seem to emit an incredible blue flash. What causes luminous color from nothing? The “microscopic layers of crystal plates inside their cells” catch light and reflect back the violet-blue. Rebecca R. Helmwrites:
Like their namesake gem, different species of sea sapphire shine in different hues, from bright gold to deep blue. Africa isn’t the only place they can be found. I’ve since seen them off the coasts of Rhode Island and California. When they’re abundant near the water’s surface the sea shimmers like diamonds falling from the sky. Japanese fisherman of old had a name for this kind of water, “tama-mizu”, jeweled water…
In the case of blue sea sapphires, these crystal layers are separated by only about four ten thousandths of a millimeter; about the same distance as a wavelength of blue light. When blue light bounces off these crystal layers, it is perfectly preserved and reflected. But for other colors of light, these small differences in distance interfere, causing the colors to cancel out. So while white light is composed of all colors, only blue light is reflected back.
In 1999, near the Cape Verde Islands, “an unusually large Caulophryne pelagica [anglerfish] was captured in perfect condition, due perhaps to a lethargy induced by a prodigious meal which had expanded the stomach in excess of the standard length.” Not long after, the rare, deep-sea specimen was a part of the Natural History Museum's collection in London.
While the deep sea Magnapinna or Big Fin Squid has only been captured on video a few times, you might have already seen it in this rather stunning viral video from an oil drilling site in 2007. It’s long tentacles have been witnesses to be 20x the length of its body, possibly around 23-26 feet long in total.