Coral Morphologic Talks Asexual Cloning and the Gulf Oil Spill
|"Flower Animal" at Biscayne Nature Center.|
Foord tells us, "To our knowledge, we are the only such multi-media coral studio in the world." The duo is in the midst of moving to a 3,000 sq. ft. warehouse on the Seybold Canal on the edge of Overtown. We hope to get a tour of the new space in the comings weeks, but until then, we asked Foord about their current muse zoanthid and whether they're worried the Gulf oil spill will defile their inspiration.
|Can you spy the zoanthid?|
New Times: "Flower Animal" centers on zoanthids. What's unique about them?
Colin Foord: We are featuring 20 different Floridian color morphs that we are aquaculturing in our lab. Like corals, they have symbiotic photosynthetic algae that live in their tissue that provide the polyp with the majority of their nutritional needs. Despite their widespread colonization, they are frequently overlooked by divers. Their primary mode of reproduction is through asexual cloning. Each round disc that you see is one individual polyp. Like corals and anemones they have a ring of tentacles that help to capture food, but they gain most of what they need simply from the sun.
Are zoanthids vulnerable to oil spill?
We're hopeful that the oil spill will pose little direct danger to these animals. Considering the length of time that it has taken for any oil to reach South Florida, we don't anticipate any heavy slicks; weathered tar balls should pose a minimal danger to coral reef health. Zoanthus are actually quite a bit better adapted to coastal and nutrient laden water than most stony reef building corals. Based on our research and observations we anticipate that zoanthids and corallimorphs will be able adapt well to changing global climate conditions and rising sea levels.
|Neon golden zoanthids. Flowers from Mars, see?|
How do you achieve the amazing colors in the photos?
Zoanthids are in fact naturally fluorescent, but their colors are highlighted with 470nm wavelength blue light. We use a special photographic filter that absorbs most of the blue light and captures the reflected fluorescence. The colors coming out of the camera are genuinely near total saturation.
|Colin and Jared are in there somewhere.|
You see can see "Flower Animal" until September 26 at the Biscayne Nature Center (6767 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne). The center opens daily at 10 a.m. and there's no admission fee. Call 305-361-6767 or visit biscaynenaturecenter.org.
We leave you with Coral Morphologic's Surfer Blood video: