This fantastic image is of open Great Star Coral (Montastraea cavernosa) polyps, filter feeding at night. This species of coral can form huge mound shaped colonies, with the polyps themselves some of the largest ones found in the Caribbean region (Smooth Flower Coral however is one example of larger ones!). Although still one of the most common corals within its range, unfortunately Great Star Coral appears quite susceptible to certain coral diseases and so it has started to become less abundant, and those colonies that are still surviving often have signs of illness and are therefore not pristine. This is a sad thing, and even more sadly is the fact that most coral species are suffering a similar fate. What can be done about it? Well, not much really as it is a regional problem with global climate variability and, more directly, water quality at its core. For things to change countries need to act together and stop going on as if its business as usual. For example, deforestation in the Amazon is having the surprising effect of reducing water quality in the Caribbean by way of nutrient enrichment (without the trees rainwater runoff into rivers is increased and it takes the nutrients that are no longer sucked up by the trees with it). This can cause ‘Green Water Events’ where algal blooms turn the once crystal clear turquoise waters green, with the increased turbidity affecting coral photosynthesis. Higher nutrient levels also encourage sea weed to grow and smother corals, and promotes cyanobacteria growth that is known to be responsible for many coral diseases. Amazonian deforestation is driven by big money and big industry though, so the chances that it will be halted, as with everything that is driven by greed and encouraged by corruption, is very slim indeed. Learn to dive now and go and experience coral reefs before it is too late!!
If you would like to see the original underwater photograph behind this design print then click here!
About Reef Creature Clothing
We specialise in not only coral reef inspired athleisure wear, but also beach & swim wear, and other printed products. All our colourful and vibrant designs are made using digitally enhanced prints of real underwater photographs taken in the Caribbean. We donate all of our profits after costs to The Coral Reef Research Hub, a small non-profit organisation that seeks to help fund research projects undertaken by early career coral reef scientists. The projects funded are those that aim to contribute information that will hopefully lead to legislative change, and thus help to protect coral reefs and their associated resources for generations to come!
We write these regular ‘creature features’ to help you learn more about the fascinating inhabitants of the coral reefs where our images came from. More will continue to be posted over the coming months so watch this space!