Creatures on our Coral Lines
25 th April 2019 | Posted by Marine Biologist
Our Coral Lines Project is a nursery dedicated to corals, however, because of the inherent role and function that corals play in the ecosystem, plenty of other creatures have also made the coral nursery their home.
Whenever we visit the Coral lines for monitoring or cleaning, we are sure to see a lot more than just corals! With over 230 lines in place, the nursery is not only bursting with coral life, but it also attracts a wide range of other marine animals. Some are there feeding on the algae that grows on the lines, some live amongst the corals, and others are just passing by.
Aside from being a coral nursery, the lines also are a nursery for small fish. Corals provide a habitat for fish and other organisms on the reef, and our lines have become the perfect nursery for these small fish before they are ready to brave the reef. In the photos below, the juvenile yellow box fish takes shelter within the coral colonies to hide from any potential predators, while the juvenile reef top pipe fish conveniently blend into the colour of the lines.
Our resident green sea turtle often makes an appearance at the nursery. She has grown rather fond of resting on top of, and in between, the coral lines to take a nap. However, she is rather shy and whenever we get too close, she swims away, returning to her resting spot when we are gone.
Occasionally eagle rays will swim by the nursery and pay us a visit whilst we are cleaning or monitoring the lines. Sometimes they stay for a while and swim around the castaway platform adjacent to the coral nursery, scouring the sandy bottom for food.
We enjoy seeing the wildlife that our nursery attracts, but we also have to keep an eye out for our safety. It is not uncommon that a lionfish might be hiding under the frames and in between the corals. We have to be very careful where we put our hands, as mantis shrimps (which have appendages that give a very powerful punch, in order to smash through the shells of crabs and molluscs!) often take refuge in some of our bigger coral colonies. Very rarely, we may also find a crown of thorns starfish that has made its way to our nursery area and we have to remove it.
Even though we visit our coral nursery frequently, every dive and snorkel is different; We never know what we’re going to see, and these are only a few of the many marine creatures we encounter on a daily basis. The variety of marine life we encounter, even at this small area, proves just how important our coral lines nursery is, not only for the corals but for so many other marine species too.