Fluorescent stony coral polyps

Fluorescent stony coral polyps

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Credit: EYE OF SCIENCE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Stony coral polyps fluorescing underwater, photographed at night using blue coloured flashlight and a yellow filter. Blue light excites pigments within some underwater organisms causing them to emit a fluorescent glow. The transparent polyps of this coral harbour symbiotic algae which require light to photosynthesize and produce nutrients. The coral also contains pigments which fluoresce under blue or ultraviolet light. It is thought that in shallower waters, the fluorescent pigments in such organisms act as a sunscreen that prevents too much ultraviolet light damaging the algae. In deeper waters and lower light levels, it is thought that the fluorescent pigments absorb ultraviolet light and emit it at a wavelength which promotes photosynthesis in the algae. This image is part of a series showing the identical specimen in white light and blue light. Photographed in the Mediterranean Sea.

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