RSS Fluorescent Friday: Blastomussa edition

MASA Admin

8 May 2007
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We visited Jakarta Indonesia last week, touring the bustling coral and aquarium exporting locations to see corals from all over Indonesia. While at Reefmaster Indonesia, we sighted an awesome, huge solitary polyp of Blastomussa vivida; we pulled out the underwater camera and couldn’t get the color quite right.

One thing led to another, the fluorescent photo equipment came out and the next thing you know, we’ve got a whole photo shoot of the mysterious Blastomussa coral in it’s most ostentatious colors. It’s safe to say that we ‘got the shot’ we were aiming for, and man you wouldn’t believe the size of this one single Blasto polyp, around three inches in diameter.

A single giant polyp of Blastomussa vivida under fluorescent spectrum

We say that this coral, Blastomussa is mysterious compared to many stony corals, and even similar large polyp corals. We only just recently recognized that B. vivida from the Indo-Pacific is different from other species in Australia and the Indian Ocean, and it’s particularly rare. We’ve never dove a reef and seen an area where Blastomussa grows to an appreciable size, let alone dominates the habitat, and we’re lucky to see one single puny colony per wall dive. Interestingly, the one usual place you can count on seeing a decent size colony of Blastomussa is on shipwrecks.

Additionally, various species of bubble corals are also frequently seen growing on shipwrecks, and research on the taxonomy of Blastomussa seems to suggest that it is more closely related to fox and bubble corals than any of the LPS-mussa corals. Perhaps the genetic and ecological connections between hard to keep blastomussa and easy to keep bubble corals can be explored in advance our understanding of these species.

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