Professors with the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology were awarded an honorable mention at the 10th annual International Science & Technology Visualization Challenge for their work detailing how coral species look under a laser scanning confocal microscope. Drs. Christine E. Farrar, Zac H. Forsman, Ruth D. Gates, Jo-Ann C. Leong and Robert J. Toonen used the microscope to capture coral in all its complexity and beauty, and details patterns of fluorescent molecules found only on the corals and the algae that nourish the corals and live inside them.
“When I saw the images of living corals under the microscope for the first time, my jaw just dropped,” Ruth Gates, a coral biologist at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and narrator of the video said in a statement released by the university. “Most people think corals are inanimate rocks. We showcase how beautiful and dynamic they are as animals.”
Read up on White Coral Disease that is killing corals and spreading off Kauai here.
Read about Montipora White Syndrome that is killing corals off Oahu’s Kaneohe Bay here.
The laser scanning confocal microscope was acquired with funds donated by Pam Omidyar in 2010. Omidyar is a philanthropist and the wife of eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar, a Hawaii resident. The microscope captures video of the corals extending and retracting, with other organisms crawling over the corals. No dyes of any kind were used in the study and all the animals show up in their natural color. The winning submissions can be seen on the Science website here.