Glowing Zoanthid Marvels
When one thinks of wildlife, the flagship species come to mind; feline carnivores, graceful ungulates, large pachyderms. However, the non-megafaunal world is equally dazzling, each organism an important component of its ecosystem. On the following pages, Sanctuary showcases our tiny saviours, through macro images of life forms that an untrained eye would miss.
This image was taken in Malvan, Maharashtra. Zoanthids are soft corals, which form a sprawling mat on flat platform rock, either on shores or around reefs in tropical and subtropical waters. Using stinging cells on their tentacles, zoanthids feed on zooxanthellae, symbiotic microscopic algae, which then live in the host’s tissues. Zooxanthellae glow vibrantly when they reflect UV light, giving the coral unique colours. The green colour is a result of photosynthesis by algae. Zoanthids are different from other soft corals because they incorporate external building materials, like sand, into their structure.
Photo: Gaurav Patil