I’ve always been interested in how corals grow with – and very often upon – each other in the wild. As we all know, reefs are dynamic places, where change is commonplace. Here are a few shots that I’ll use to explore my theme.
In the image at the top of the post, you can see a great many individual colonies that are growing rapidly in this food-rich environment. The amount of nutrition available also explains the poor visibility! Clearly the corals are overgrowing and shading each other in the constant battle for the best conditions. You can see a very similar scenario in the shot below.
There’s a bit more diversity in this image. Change can help increase biodiversity; in the case of reefs, the collapse or structural failure of a large colony can create opportunities for other species to colonize the area.
I really like this image as it illustrates my point very well. Here we can see a large tabulate acropora that, due to gravity, and possibly aided by strong currents, has fallen. Its demise has provided an opportunity for new colonies to grow upon it, thus increasing both local diversity and the overall size of the reef.
In this final image, another large acropora has died only to become, once more, a structure upon which other corals can grow.