Friday, December 29, 2006
I loved the delicate yet bold characteristic of this little sprig of coral. It's a bleak day outside and the monochrome of the shoreline was punctuated with this neon form of life. It would have been easy to miss.
Here's what it inspired me to learn about it:
It is an animal colony, not a plant. What you see is a limestone condominium of dozens of small cylinder-shaped animal polyps.
It is called a sea whip (also called gorgonian or soft coral).
The colors (yellow, magenta, turquoise, pink, white, orange) are determined by the type of algaes that live in the polyp tissues. These algaes use the CO2 expelled by the coral polyps, and produce the oxygen that the polyp needs in such close quarters.