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What’s that glowing?

May 23, 2013

Fluorescing corallimorphs attached to a piece of metal debris from the shipwreck. These individuals were approximately 0.5 cm in diameter. Image courtesy of Art Howard, Deepwater Canyons 2013 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS.

During each dive we collect biological specimens that inhabit the wreck. The specimens will be used for various studies ranging from species distribution patterns and isotopic analysis to coral genetics and larval analysis. This is an example of a cool organism collected from the dive last night. These corallimorphs were attached to a piece of the wreckage. Corallimorphs are closely related to sea anemones and do not produce a hard skeleton. In natural light they appear white, but when held under a black light they exhibit green fluorescence. The fluorescence occurs around their mouth, possibly to help attract external food sources. This sample was collected from the wreck using the suction tube sampling attachment on Jason, also known as the ‘slurp’ sampler.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. diane mcclain permalink
    May 23, 2013 3:59 pm

    how big do they grow or do they stay small…how do they reproduce…are they like a plant with seeds that float to what ever metal they can attach to????

  2. May 23, 2013 9:16 pm

    After talking with Esprit, who is examining the phylogenetic relationships within deep-sea bamboo corals, here is what I learned:
    This particular species of corallimorph does not get much bigger than this. However, other species in the order corallimorpharia can reach the size of dinner plates. As far as reproduction goes, corallimorphs can reproduce sexually through broadcast spawning (many males and females releasing their gametes into the water simultaneously) or asexually through division.

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