Category Archives: Macro diving

What exactly is coral??

Coral reefs are formed by groups of marine invertebrates that live together.

Each individual is known as a polyp. Corals feed by sticking out their tentacles into the water and catching drifting plankton and when they’re inactive, corals protect themselves by withdrawing their tentacles.

Large coral colonies you see are formed over hundreds and even thousands of years as polyp growth rates are extremely slow – up to 1cm per year.

When a polyp dies naturally a new polyp will form over the top. Repeated over many years, this process eventually results in the massive coral formations you will see today. As sea levels rise and fall over geological time the ‘active’ area of the reef changes over time. The white sandy beaches you see around these islands are produced by dead coral broken up over time in to smaller particles of calcium carbonate.

Coral garden - Top Pescador Island

Coral garden – Top Pescador Island

How Does Coral Feed?

Only a fraction of a coral’s food is from what is caught by the tentacles.

Coral’s main food source comes from a symbiotic relationship (mutually beneficial partnership) with photosynthesising algae collectively known as zooxanthellae.

The algae provides a coral with it’s colour. Without any algae, all shallow water coral would be white. The relationship between coral and algae is incredibly efficient, providing the following benefits:

Benefits to coral

Benefits to zooxanthellae

supplied with up to 90% of energy requirements as well as oxygen and aids with waste removal

safe environment to grow

provided with glucose, glycerol and amino acids for production of sugars, fats and most importantly calcium carbonate for reef construction

provided with compounds required for photosynthesis

Written by Henry Collister

Dive Instructor – Quo Vadis Dive resort

“The Best House Reef in Moalboal”

So many people that come into our dive center have some form of prejudice towards the notion of diving our “house reef,” but actually the house reef we have in front of our resort is one of my personal favourite dive sites in Moalboal. Those snorkelers and divers willing to experience it for themselves will generally agree. One of the biggest appeals it has is that a lot of the time it is just your group there creating a rather unique experience; truly a gem “hidden in plain view” as the expression goes.

Being guided out to the reef wall by mooring lines in the shallows, you end up reaching the drop off for our incredible reef. The reef itself is packed with some of the most beautiful, healthy hard corals and anemones the area has to offer. Though through descending deeper you can see a vast array of colorful soft coral, big barrel sponges and gorgonian sea fans that are potentially home to some very special creatures such as: hairy squat lobsters, ornate ghost pipefish, robust ghost pipefish, giant frogfish, painted frogfish, sexy squat shrimps, peacock mantis shrimp, candy crabs, orangutan crabs and so on…

Ornate Ghostpipefish

Ornate Ghost Pipefish

Sexy Squat Shrimp

Sexy Squat Shrimp

Blue-ringed Octopus

Blue-ringed Octopus

Orangutan Crab

Orangutan Crab

Hairy Squat Lobster

Hairy Squat Lobster

During the dive, you will likely be greeted by sea turtles which can be either green turtles or hawksbill turtles. Keep your eyes peeled as you’re surfacing or even if you’re already on the surface, during the day time when there is sargassum seaweed or coconut shells floating around, you might be able to spot the amazing sargassum frogfish looking for shelter near the surface.

To top it all off… As the sun sets over the horizon our house reef inhabits some of the famous mandarin fish that come and display the spectacle of their mating ritual for us, there really aren’t much better ways to start a night dive. Even blue-ringed octopus, and leafy scorpion fish tend to surprise us on night dives pretty regularly in addition to many other marine species that come alive after dusk.

So, let’s be rid of this negative connotation when you hear ‘house reef’… Quo Vadis House reef… Snorkel it, dive it, and be amazed!

 

Written by, Inge

Instructor and Dive Center Manager

Quo Vadis Dive Resort

Pictures: Inge Leys & Pernilla Sjöö