Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Header - Brain Coral

Hello everyone.  It was time to change out my header again.  With so many new photos taken in Cancun, I wanted to share some of them with you and a header change is a great way to set that stage.  The dives we took in Mexico had lots of fish life but scattered coral beds.  The hurricanes from previous years did a lot of damage to their natural reefs.  Still, reefs are amazing colonies and they have already begun to rebuild themselves as the locals have shared.  My new header is a cropped close up of a large brain coral located in Machonies Reef, Cancun, Mexico.  One of my favorite of the hard corals, these maze lined corals are all different in design and pattern and when you get close enough to look, have lovely blended colors.  (all photos enlarge when you click them)

Lovely muted shades of blue, pink and yellow.

This is the uncropped photo of the brain coral above.

Coral reefs are one of the richest and most complex ecosystems in the ocean. A huge variety of plants and animals make their home in the warm waters around coral reefs. Colonies of approximately 2,500 different species of corals live in the oceans and virtually all of them in the shallow water off tropical coasts.

Brain coral is one of my favorite coral animals. It is a type of stony coral which is named after its unusual appearance. As brain coral grows, it develops a rounded surface covered in deep meandering ridges and grooves, causing it to look like a brain. I have seen golf ball size brain corals to some as big as a Volkswagen. The life span of the largest brain corals is 200 years.

Brain corals extend their tentacles to catch food at night. During the day, the brain corals use their tentacles for protection by wrapping them over the grooves on their surface. The surface is hard and offers good protection against fish or hurricanes. Branching corals, such as staghorn coral, grow more rapidly, but they are more vulnerable to storm damage.

Grunts swimming around fan corals.  These are soft corals and are very pretty.  The fan corals at this reef were large and very healthy.

A  nudebranch living on a large fan coral.  These shell-less mollusks, part of the sea slug family, have the most interesting patterns and shapes. I love these neat sea creatures.

This sea turtle was swimming through the coral reef to the sandy, grassy area filled with turtle grass.  He was very far away so I had to use several filters to bring up his natural brown and white patterns. 

Brain coral is a major player when it comes to reef building. It develops extremely slowly, sinking resources into developing a very strong skeleton and base making it difficult to dislodge, so it will endure hurricanes and other threats. Once brain coral establishes itself, it can provide shelter for other corals and organisms, contributing over time to the development of a true coral reef. 

Thanks for swimming by and have a wonderful day.  Sea Witch


Kathy-Catnip Studio said...

Wonderfully informative and interesting post. The photos are beautiful; how lucky you are to see these wonders under the sea!

P.S. I made to the P.O. yesterday, so a photo is coming your way.

Anonymous said...

Hi I tried emailing the address on my comment, but it won't go through...

FrenchBlue said...

Oh my, love my science lesson! AND I LOVE your new header.. you are the sea queen!

Seawashed said...

Ha ha ha!!! YOu crAcked me Up! Thanks for the advise drink to cure a sore throat. I no longer drink because Alcoholism is in my blood. My Dad is recovered, my brother still recovering and I just didn't want to go down that road. But I will keep that advice for my dear hubby and other family members.

Your blog is lovely. I have the mermaid on your right(waterhouse painting) framed on my wall above my computer desk. I like that pic of the sea turtle you took in Cancun...that would make a gorgeous header! BTW nice to meet you.

Anonymous said...

Hi, tried again...Do you want to respond to mine then I have recieved to return...Leerangers@live.co.uk

Javajune said...

These pics are amazing. I love the sea and all the treasures that wash ashore. Your trip must have been amazing. I would love to escape the snow and go to Cancun.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I noticed the new header right away and knew it had to be coral. I enjoyed reading about brain coral -- and it really does look so much like a brain!

It's fascinating how coral is a living organism as it looks like a rock or plant. I did not know anything about grunts...your photos are amazing!

Trixie@ the vintage bothy said...

Hi Seawitch
Have you seen seahorses on your dives, I am forever hopeful?