Coral Reef Scene
Size: 8m x 5m
We are now expanding our efforts, capturing entire swaths of coral reefs. Such efforts will allow us to visualize these ecosystems from a broader perspective and examine big picture changes. Guam has an enormous amount of coral reef biodiversity, boasting more than 400 species of coral alone! Sadly, however, Guam’s coral reefs have faced drastic declines in health due to tremendous amounts of overfishing and other anthropogenic (human-induced) stressors.
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These branching corals can grow up to 2 meters (over 6.5 ft) wide. This species is common in the Indo-Pacific, but other Acropora species such as Acropora cervicornis (Staghorn coral) and Acropora palamata (Elkhorn coral) have faced drastic population declines in recent decades. Since the 1980s, there has been population loss of 80%-98% in the Carribean. Source
These branching corals are common in Hawaiian waters. They are easily distinguished by their wart-like bumps on the branches, called, called verrucae. These corals provide excellent shelter for many reef fish, which are often found in between the coral’s branches.
Our methodology doesn’t stop with corals. This has multiple applications, such as monitoring growth of aquaculture organisms such as this giant clam.
Brain corals, as the name implies, are composed of numerous winding ridges and valleys that are home to the coral polyps, the living tissues of the coral. This pattern is one of the most space efficient shapes, allowing brain corals to pack the maximum number of coral polyps in the least amount of space.
Size: ~2m across
This mound coral is infected with black band disease. Can you spot it?
The disease is caused by a bacteria, which progresses across the coral in a band like fashion, hence the name. Behind the black band lies the dead coral skeleton. Coral diseases are still relatively new to scientists and currently only about half of their causes or origins are known.