It’s always a special kind of thrill – rather like a personal discovery – to find out that something we think of as rather “familiar” is actually more beautiful and important than we ever dreamed.
Corals may be one of the least appreciated and most fragile wonders on the planet. After we are finished with today’s EWC article, you will know why we wanted to point you to this familiar yet extraordinary wonder of nature.
There’s more going on here than you ever imagined!
Today’s EWC article is an extraordinary example of our assertion that it is still an amazing world (the Ever Widening Circles motto.)
We’ll find that coral reefs are not just precious visual gems, but also critical to our food supply, millions of jobs, and protection from catastrophic storms.
No doubt about it, we are going to feed your soul with the beauty of coral reefs today and leave you transformed by a sense of connection. Now let’s get to it…
First up, let’s take a little trip in the slow lane, with a breath-taking film made by BioQuest Studios.
When I came across this piece (sent to us by an EWC fan from Australia), I knew there was a story here almost completely underappreciated by most. See what you think!
Have you ever seen anything like that?
The film’s producers at Bio Quest studios give us a nice explanation of their process after the video on Vimeo.
“The answer to a common question: yes, colors are “real” and not exaggerated by digital enhancement. We have only applied basic white balance correction.
The duration of sequences varied from 20 minutes to 6+ hours. To make this little clip we took 150000 shots. Why so many? Because macro photography involves shallow depth of field. To extend it, we used focus stacking and deconvolution algorithms. Each frame of the video is actually a stack that consists of 3-12 shots.
Just the intro and the last scene are regular real-time footage. One frame required about 10 minutes of processing time (raw conversion + stacking + deconvolution in some scenes). Unfortunately, the success rate was very low due to copious technical challenges and we spent almost 9 long months to get it right.” 2
Sounds like the devotion of true artists!
Now let’s dig into the wonder of the main characters in that video. Many may know that coral is a living organism, but we tend to think of it more in terms of an inanimate, colorful rock. And yet all that activity and complexity is going on just beyond our awareness.
This all piqued my curiosity, so I did a little homework for us. Here’s a terrific piece from Living Ocean’s Productions that explains exactly what was going on in that initial, mesmerizing video.
Terrific! Now we have much of what we need to appreciate the backstory on what we are seeing.
Let’s keep the wonder going with some little-known facts:
You may have heard of The Great Barrier Reef off Australia’s eastern coast. It’s called “great” for many reasons, and its length (2,300 kilometers or 1,400 mi) is just one of them. Some scientists believe it may be the most diverse ecosystem on our planet, while being 5,000 to 10,000 years old.
Coral reefs will only form in tropical and sub-tropical waters of a very precise temperature. Not too hot, not too cold. If you’ve ever heard of a rock outcropping called a “reef” in colder regions of the world, it is because that particular part of the ocean floor was once situated at or nearer to the equator (revealing the history of tectonic plates and continental drift.)
And that leads us to a very little known fact: Did you know that the oldest observable coral reef is half a billion years old and can be found in Vermont!? Yes, I’ve been there myself and it is very surreal. At the time the Chazy Fossil Reef formed, Vermont was part of a shallow, warm, inland sea. What visitors can wander through today is a fossilized coral reef that feels like an unusual rocky outcropping until you start to look closer. I was amazed to learn that it was unprotected and unappreciated until only recently, 1998. You can learn more about The Chazy Fossil Reef by visiting the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust’s website.
Why should we care?
Many people know that coral reefs all over the world are in trouble due to rising sea temperatures, but most don’t realize how all our lives will change if coral lives change. Even if we set aside the importance of coral as a natural wonder, we are left with self-preservation as a motivation to care about the well-being of coral reefs.
Here’s an amazing passage from a terrific article at Scitable Nature Education:
Coral reefs provide food to millions of humans. Corals, like trees, provide three-dimensional structure and substrate to house and feed fish and other marine animals that humans eat. Some estimates say that over 1 billion people depend on food from coral reefs, and reefs as a whole might be worth around $172 billion for every year they continue to provide essential services to humans, like food.
Coral reefs protect and create land. Coral reefs can dissipate wave energy from storms and tsunamis, reducing damage on adjacent land. Atoll islands continue to exist above the ocean’s surface long after the volcanic island upon which they first grew has cooled and sunk below the waves, due exclusively to the growth of corals and other reef-associated organisms like large foraminifera.
Coral reefs might supply natural medicines. Compounds effective against disease-causing agents like bacteria and fungi already exist in nature – and could be developed into effective drugs for humans if they can be isolated. Coral reefs are a likely place to find these natural products, due to their tremendous biodiversity. 4
So let’s close with another videographer’s extraordinary take on the undulating beauty of coral as a challenge to our senses. Here’s the work of Mylapse.com:
Thank you to all three of the creators of today’s wonderful videos. They are working in remarkable ways that expand us all.
If you want to infuse your day with a kind of wonder that surpasses the best imaginations, visit their websites. All three of them are full of images and information that is transformational. Their projects are simply stunning.
The Bio Quest Studio website is immersive from the homepage onward. Absolutely extraordinary!
Stay open, curious and optimistic!
~ Dr. Lynda
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If you’d like to stay with the train of thought in this article, head to our category for inspiring Ocean related articles.
- “Slow Life.” Vimeo. BioQuest Studios, 11 Mar. 2014. Web. 08 Apr. 2017. <https://vimeo.com/88829079>. ↩
- “Slow Life.” Vimeo. BioQuest Studios, 11 Mar. 2014. Web. 08 Apr. 2017. <https://vimeo.com/888290799>. ↩
- “Coral: What Does It Eat?” YouTube. Khaled Bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, 25 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2017. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZuxZdG6TfM>. ↩
- Carilli, Jessica. “Why Are Coral Reefs Important?” Nature News. Nature Publishing Group, 17 June 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2017. <http://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/saltwater-science/why_are_coral_reefs_important>. ↩
- “Coral Colors in Vimeo Staff Picks.” Vimeo. MyLapse, 27 Feb. 2016. Web. 08 Apr. 2017. <https://vimeo.com/channels/staffpicks/156942975>. ↩