A larger coral has escaped the size where it can be overgrown by crustose
algae and loves living on a reef surrounded by fast growing coralline algae
A Reef of Clones
By Mark Vermeij
Coming to a pristine reef raises expectations. One of these expectations concerns the ways in which coral cover increases on reefs such as those of the Line Islands. Increasing coral cover is nowadays a rather rare phenomenon on most reefs, but on the reefs of Malden, corals cover most of the bottom in shallow water suggesting rapid coral growth of existing and broken or fragmented colonies. In addition to growth, coral cover is often believed to result from high levels of coral recruitment and similar to coral growth itself, coral recruitment rates have dropped enormously in most places. Coral recruitment is the landing of planktonic coral larvae from the water column followed by settlement and metamorphosis and believed to be the most important mechanism through which corals can “reseed” reefs that have experienced total destruction through storms or man-related actions.