Fluorescent stony coral

Fluorescent stony coral

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Credit: EYE OF SCIENCE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Stony coral 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 glow green under blue or ultraviolet light, while surrounding algae glow orange and red. 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. Photographed in the Mediterranean Sea.

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