Cocoa Island by COMO
What are corals?
Corals are colonial animals whereby many genetically identical polyps live together. Each coral polyp is related to sea anemones and jelly fish, and, similarly, they are sac-like in shape and possess tentacles that can sting small zooplankton living in the water. When the current is high, or when it is night-time, the polyps have to feed by catching zooplankton with their tentacles.
They also live in symbiosis with photosynthetic algae, or what is known as zooxanthellae. These algae can make food in the presence of sunlight, and they live in tiny pockets within the polyps; the excess sugars they produce from this photosynthetic process then feeds the coral.
There are two different types of corals. The hard corals, also known as reef-building corals, are characterized by a hard calcium skeleton which anchors and protects the polyps. The soft corals have no skeleton but the polyp are strengthened by calcium pockets called sclerites. Hard corals are the main reef-builders, and what we propagate onto the coral frames.
Corals are able to reproduce sexually and asexually. Sexual reproduction means that there is a fertilization of eggs and sperms, which produces more genetically different corals – an evolutionary advantage. Polyps also reproduce asexually by budding. So new polyps split from older generation polyps to create a new coral colony, and, therefore, small broken fragments of corals are also able to reattach onto a new surface and regrow into large fragments again. When attached onto a new hard surface, such as the bar of the coral frame, the tiny colony of a coral fragment will be able to reproduce asexually and regrow into a large colony again.
Benefits of your Coral Frame on the Reef
Conservation of corals
Propagating coral fragments will help them survive when they could have bleached and died after being broken off, and also allow the corals to rebuild its population as the fragments regrow. Eventually, the coral fragments will reach a mature size, ready for sexually reproduction to produce new, genetically diverse larvae, and contribute to the population’s resilience.
Biodiversity and Habitat
Your coral frame provides the same ecosystem functions as the coral reef. This includes being a crucial nursery for young fish and other marine species, and a refuge area for multitudes of marine species such as moray eels, turtles and invertebrates from weather elements, strong currents and big predators.
Corals also help to recycle a lot of nutrients in the water as a result of their natural bodily processes, which is vital for the coral reef habitat and its inhabitants. Therefore, with each coral frame, we are contributing to an overall marine life diversity and an increase in productivity in the ecosystem reef.
Tourism and Recreation
The beauty and fish diversity attracts tourism. So you as a snorkeler or diver want to enjoy colorful healthy corals and a vibrant marine life.
Reef structures also act as a natural breakwater, which reduces the impacts of waves and erosion, and the coral frames are no less different. The frames do contribute to protecting beaches and helping to prevent excessive erosion. Having these complex structures thus make our coastline more stable and allows the beach to stay more intact.