Just take a look at that aerial photograph of Palau’s Nikko Bay above – this is the kind of habitat where crazy corals can be seen and found. The lush rainforests grows on steep limestone cliffs right up to the water’s edge, creating very unique habitats for corals and fish.
The rainforests infuse certain corners and bays with a small influx of nutrients, fueling unusual coral growth. Meanwhile the steep cliffs provide a huge range of environmental conditions, particularly shady, sheltered coral ledges where normally deep-living corals can be seen right at snorkeling depth.
In certain narrow passes the water is channeled into areas of steady, high water flow where deepwater gorgonians grow in overhangs. In other areas the channel is wide but shallow, providing the perfect conditions for SPS Corals to form a near continuous mass of living stony coral reef.
This is one of the wildest marine habitats I’ve ever visited and on the first outing, barely scratched the surface for a quick snorkeling tour of the place. Thankfully, I was able to return for a more in-depth survey of this wild coral environment, which will be featured in a follow-up video.