Our aquarium life is all but dominated by photosynthetic corals and to be fair, the brightly lit aquariums they require is part of the appeal. But there’s a whole wide world of cool and unusual corals growing literally in the shadows, and these have a completely different form and color palette than what we’re all familiar with.
We tend to think of Azooxanthellate or non-photoysnthetic corals as living in deep, dark caves but sometimes, these shade-grown corals can be found very close to shore. While diving around Amed, Bali, the very same dive site where we photographed a ton of shallow water Acropora colonies, there’s a Japanese Shipwreck in very shallow water which is actually a popular snorkeling spot.
This artificial structure sit in just 15 feet of water, with parts of the wreck breaching the surface of the water. We found one particular shady wedge of the wreck to be absolutely chock-full of Azoox corals and simply couldn’t believe lush growth of corals in this one artificial reef.
Spending about half a dive in this man-made coral cave, our camera shutter kept busy photographing a wide range of non-photosynthetic stony corals. The diversity between and among these rarely seen corals was simply astounding, every time we thought we’d spotted everything another cryptic coral would come into view, and all the following images were made basically in one single spot, without moving at all.