Saturday, November 29, 2014

Enigma of the Coral Reef

No ecosystem in the world is more vast, open and free than the coral reef.

Paintings by Abe V Rotor

Don a snorkel and a new world unfolds - the coral reef.

It is a forest under the sea, the counterpart of the forest we know on land. There are also equivalent trees like the giant Sargassum that grows several feet long; shrubs like the branching Gracillaria; cacti like the broad Padina; annuals like spongy Codium. Together with sea grasses, these seaweeds form multi-storey greenery at varying depths the same way forests have the features of mountains, hills, caverns and cliffs.

The animals that live here are more varied and colorful than those on land, mimicking the prism of sunlight in water with all the splendor of the rainbow. There are fishes that are distinctly bright colored, and at night exude phosphorescence like neon lights. They borrow the shape of their surroundings, the corals and seaweeds, for both protection and aggression - all these are adaptations for survival.

On the coral reef food chains have more links, so to speak, and food webs more intricate, as both residents and transient organisms interact. No ecosystem in the world is more vast, open and free than the coral reef. It is also the most lavish. Even beauty itself. Living things and all their ornaments are irresistible to be awed and respected, holding an enigma that expands our imagination to fantasy that lures us to the sea and to love to fish and comb the reefs all day. To write poetry - and to paint.

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