A healthy coral reef - vibrant lush corals everywhere I look. This is one of the most lush and rich coral reefs we have found in New Caledonia and I am totally thrilled by the glittering cloud of bright blue damsel fish rising up from the crystal coral branches. Freddy surfaces next to me and says, laughing, they look like seaquens. When we approach they form shoals and shy away but we can see them undisturbed, further off in the clear water, a glitter of sequens scattered throughout the water snatching tiny zooplankton from the sea. They shift colors from luminous turquoise green to iridescent blue, sometimes the whole school does it in one harmonious whoosh of color.
It is the most vivacious coral forest we've found and the largest schools of Chromis viridis we've found. The two creatures, the coral and the fish, are made for each other and this particular display of mutual aid is a particularly beautiful example of symbiosis - the fine art of "living together".
When danger threatens the fish dive down and hide in the branches of the coral. When the coral is as abundant as this forest of Acropora the entire school of fish can vanish completely in the protective branches. The fish also sleep in the protective arms of the corals, safe from the many species of nocturnal predators that prowl the night reefs. The lower regions of the coral branches are no longer living and Chromis attaches its eggs to these well hidden surfaces during the summer. The male then guards the eggs until they hatch. When we examine the vast shoals of fish we can see a whole range of sizes from tiny little fish only a few months old to some about 90 mm long. Most of them are less than 50mm long.
The coral benefits from the association, too.
The clear waters of the tropical south Pacific are very poor in nutrients - phosphates and nitrates - coral needs in order to survive. The thin layer of tissue creating the calcium carbonate coral branches is an association - a symbiosis - of plant and animal cells; about one third animal cells and two thirds plant cells. The animal cells protect the plant cells and provide them with nutrients and carbon dioxide - and the plants provide the animal cells with oxygen and sugars for energy. To support the plant growth the animal cells form tentacles which snare nutrients from the sea currents. They capture some plankton but they also catch the constant precipitation of nutrient pellets ejected by the clouds of tropical fish that swim above them. The fish effectively extend the biological reach of the corals up into the water and in a way we can think of the Chromis sequens as extended tentacles of the symbiosis that is the coral reef.
Scientists have found that when the population of fish above a coral reef declines the corals develop diseases, growth slows, and the association dies. And these days, dead and dying reefs are the norm - and wondrous coral and fish associations like this one are very limited in extent.
It makes me particularly happy to be able to show you this example of harmony on the coral reefs of New Caledonia and I thank the team at www.360cities.net for the opportunity to extend the symbiosis of the coral reef into the electronic consciousness of humanity.
新喀里多尼亚是离澳大利亚和新西兰最近的南太平洋岛屿。该岛是法国领地且官方语言是法语，尽管如此，其文化却丰富多彩，揉合了美拉尼西亚、欧洲、波利尼西亚、越南、中国、印尼等国的风情。这里有一个多山的大岛，称为大地岛 (Grande Terre)，和6个较小的岛屿——洛亚蒂三岛 (Loyalty Islands)、贝莱普群岛 (Belep) 和松树岛 (Isle of Pines)。 整个群岛人口极为稀少，有大片的荒野。这里有数百公里长的徒步小径、随处可见的露营营地、超过42个公园和保护区、清澈透明的河流和莹莹闪光的瀑布。约三分之一的人口居住在首府努美阿。镍的开采是该国最主要的工业，也是维持其高标准生活的主要经济来源。大地岛四周环绕着世界第二大珊瑚礁，此珊瑚礁形成的泻湖是世界上最大的，也是受保护的泻湖。该泻湖于2008年被列为世界遗产，面积达24000平方公里，是品种丰富的鱼类和无脊椎动物栖息之地。 对于刚上岛的游客而言，最引人注目的是这里鲜艳夺目的色彩。努美阿以其完备的酒店、度假酒店、餐馆设施和丰富多彩的活动欢迎游客的到来。