Chagos Coral Collection
Rachel Jones, deputy team leader of the Aquarium, took part in a conservation trip to the largely untouched atolls of the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
Here are some of the amazing photos she took.
Bright red colony of Lobophyllia hemprichii – this coral species occurs in many different colours but this one really stands out from its surroundings
Pavona cactus – this species does very well in captivity and can be seen growing in our aquarium at ZSL London Zoo
Favia matthai – this colony shows healthy tissue on the right and recently exposed skeleton on the left. This damage could be caused by disease, or by a predator such as a crown-of-thorns starfish. Colonies such as this one were sampled for further investigation
A bleached colony of Acropora (in contrast the colony to the left shows healthy green tissue) when corals lose their pigment in this way it is usually a stress response. High sea surface temperature caused by global warming is the most common reason, but corals may also bleach in response to some pathogens
Large colony of Gardineroseris planulata – it is uncommon to see large aggregations of this species, but they were abundant at several sites in the northern atolls of Chagos
A healthy Acropora thicket – large stands of this type of coral form around the outside of small tropical islands and act as wave breaks, slowing coastal erosion. The loss of Acropora stands due to bleaching, disease or anchor damage can have dramatic effects on the ecology of whole ecosystems
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