“Astonishing reefs”, diving in the middle of strange corals



“Amazing reefs”

Under the direction of Laetitia Hédouin

CNRS Éditions, 304 pages, € 22

Forget the winter cold of the metropolis and its frosted trees. Direction the lagoons! Dive with the biologists of Criobe, the island research center and environmental observatory, in the warm turquoise waters of Polynesia. Here you will discover colorful fish, but also crabs that sweep the sand, coral cousins ​​of jellyfish with painful stings, or the race of sea hares, which camouflage themselves in the middle of toxic bacteria.

→ READ ALSO. Global warming: 14% of corals disappeared from the oceans between 2009 and 2018

Coral reefs, which occupy less than 1% of the ocean floor, are home to a quarter of marine organisms. A million different species coexist amidst the limestone structures and some biologists believe that there are at least as many yet to be discovered.

Mysterious and threatened corals

This underwater world reveals little of its strangeness. It was not until the 1980s to discover “inverted snow”, thousands of male and female gametes expelled by corals from the Great Barrier Reef like so many small eggs that rise to the surface to meet. In Moorea, in French Polynesia, this spawning takes place very precisely at 10:20 p.m., nine days after the full moon in October.

Mysterious, the corals are also threatened. After the rich biodiversity, the last chapters focus on the links between man and these ecosystems. From nuclear tests on Fangataufa and Moruroa to the reintroduction of rāhui traditional (sacred spaces temporarily prohibited), the researchers draw up a mixed assessment, but without fatalism. A nice read, while waiting for the return of sunny days.

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