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Inside A Coral Lab

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by , 08-01-2012 at 22:30 (7649 Views)
WRITTEN BY TIM WIJGERDE

Corals keep mystifying and challenging us, whether we are aquarists, divers or scientists. Our understanding of corals and their symbiotic organisms has been a long road, and knowledge of their biology is ever increasing. Even today, marine biologists are working hard to unravel the complex physiology of these amazing animals. The question however is: how do they do that?


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Corals, with their exquisite shapes and colours, keep mystifying us (Stylophora pistillata, photograph: Tim Wijgerde).

The marine aquarium hobby is more popular now than ever, inspired by the attractive, colourful appearance of tropical fish, corals and other invertebrates. Nowadays, the average hobbyist is able to grow countless coral species at home. To do this, a basic knowledge of coral biology is required, which can be attained by reading the available literature. This literature is the result of the efforts of several pioneers – both aquarists and scientists. In the 1960’s, our knowledge of coral biology took major leaps, due to the findings of scientists such as Leonard Muscatine, but also because of aquarists including Peter Wilkens and Jean Jaubert. Today, research on coral biology marches on, with literally thousands of scientists conducting research – both in the field and in laboratories.

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In a laboratory, the biology of corals can be uncovered step by step (photograph: Tim Wijgerde).

People often wonder how scientists acquire certain insights. How do we know that corals live in harmony with single celled algae? How do we know that they can harness the sun’s energy? And how do we know that light alone is not sufficient for corals to grow well? To be able to answer these questions, we require a well-equipped laboratory. Only by observing, by measuring, do we slowly obtain answers to our questions.

Light is life - photosynthesis

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Updated 08-01-2012 at 22:38 by Matt

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