• Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

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Monthly Archives: June 2021

Healthy Coral Growth Evident in Gorontalo’s Reefs

Healthy coral growth is a notable characteristic of Gorontalo’s pristine reefs. Hard corals, known as scleractinians, dominate the marine environment here. Situated in the center of the Indo-Pacific’s Coral Triangle, Gorontalo displays highly diverse and dense corals.  

Diverse Acropora coral colonies

One genus of Gorontalo’s hard corals is Acropora. Acropora coral colonies can form tables or branches, depending on the species. In fact, there are over 140 species of Acropora.

healthy coral with polyps
Acropora with coral polyp tentacles protruding

Scleractinian corals are actually animals that live in a surrounding calcium structure. The animal is a a coral polyp. It is shaped like a tube with a single opening at one end. Tentacles usually ring this opening and function to gather plankton for food. Waste is expelled through the same opening. These tentacles can protrude or retract from the surrounding structure. Moreover, these tentacles gather passing plankton to eat. The embedded end of a coral polyp is connected to the entire coral colony via shared tissue and a nerve net. Moreover, all Acropora species are colonial.

Most Acropora species share a common distinction. The individual coral polyp is encased in a small tube that projects from the common substructure. This is true whether the Acropora forms a flat table or forms branches. Upon close inspection, divers can observe this distinction. However, determining the species of an Acropora colony requires microscopic analysis of its calcium skeleton.

Ringed in White

For the most part, the coloration of Acropora colonies comes from algae living inside the tissue of coal polyps. These algae are symbiotic. By process of photosynthesis, they convert sunlight into energy. This energy is more than the algae needs, so the surplus is passed to the coral polyp host. Scientists suspect that algae provides up to 98% of the nutrients health coral colonies need to survive.

Most divers know that rising ocean temperatures can cause the algae to vacate its coral host. If the algae does not return, within a matter of weeks the coral starves to death.

healthy coral
Acropora table corals with healthy white edges

Some divers are shocked to see Acropora colonies in Gorontalo ringed in white. They conclude that the coral is experiencing dangerous bleaching. However, this white edging is actually indicates rapid coral growth. In fact, the colony edges represent new coral growth. Algae has not yet had time to assimilate into the new coral polyps on the edge of the healthy coral colony.

Healthy Coral Environmental Conditions

Gorontalo Province is free from chemical producing factories. This means water contamination is very low. Also, frequent wave action creates high amounts of oxygenation. Located just north of the equator, Gorontalo enjoys an abundance of sunlight. All these elements are necessary for healthy coral growth.

Gorontalo’s health coral reefs are waiting for you to enjoy. So, please make your dive reservations directly with Miguel’s Diving.

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