Ever seen a coral polyp up close?

Coral and ocean acidification

A coral polyp and it’s skeleton (Photo by Liz Drenkard, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Today’s Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution picture of the day catches a coral polyp early in it’s life (three-weeks-old) at left and its delicate skeleton at right.

MIT-WHOI Joint Program student Liz Drenkard studies the way corals respond to increasing ocean acidification, which can impede their ability to build their calcium carbonate skeletons.

Drenkard recently reported that:

Under both normal and high carbon dioxide levels, baby corals that she fed well built larger skeletons and thus calcified more rapidly than unfed corals, which obtained nutrition primarily from their photosynthesizing symbiotic algae.

Drenkard’s results suggest that corals living where there is ample food may withstand the effects of ocean acidification better than corals living where food is scarce.

Ocean Acidification (Courtesy of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory Carbon Dioxide Program)

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