There’s no shortage of videos of wild ocean scenes, habitats and marinelife but these are almost exclusively of megafauna. If you want to see footage of sharks, dolphins, sea turtles or even more sharks, video hosting sites like YouTube have you covered for a week’s worth of binging.
Alas if you want some really good closeups of healthy wild corals growing like grass on the most ideal coral reef environments, you will be hard pressed to find anything impressive the likes of which will make you rethink what kind of reef aquarium you’re trying to build. We’ve done our best to try and document awesome wild corals in many parts of the world but this clip from Lizard Island is on another level.
This shallow water assemblage of reef building stony corals is incredibly dense, diverse, and very colorful with a natural composition that we could barely dream of replicating in our home reef tanks. In less than sixty seconds this short video montage captures the incredible variety of stony corals, especially Acropora, in all their staghorn, plating, bushy, bottlebrush and digitate growth forms, all thriving in this shallow reef habitat in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef.
Lizard Island has been extensively studied and surveyed over the last few decades and you might be surprised to find out that this stony coral reef is almost entirely new. Many of the outer reefs of Australia are frequently razed to the ground by different pressures and sometimes it’s crown of thorns starfish that press the rest button, sometimes it’s heavy storms, and more recently it’s severely elevated temperatures that causes all the corals to bleach, die, and start over. A small amount of disturbance is actually the catalyst for this incredible degree of coral diversity because without it, much like forests these reefs would eventually be dominated by larger colonies of fewer species.
It’s incredible to think that this entire coral reef is built almost exclusively by hundreds of different Acropora species with what appears to be only a small contribution by the occasional Pocillopora and we only saw one true Sinularia soft coral hanging in there with the stonies. We find that it’s important to ‘calibrate’ our reef aquarium goals by studying what natural reefs look like, which corals grow together, and how quickly they can grow because nature is the best yard stick to measure the pinnacle of success, especially with SPS corals.