Stony coral polyps in daylight

Stony coral polyps in daylight

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Credit: EYE OF SCIENCE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Coral polyps in daylight. 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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