extreme coral close-ups now possible

A new underwater microscope has a membrane that works a bit like the human eye to focus on tiny coral polyps. Photo: Emily L. A. Kelly / NGM
A new underwater microscope has a membrane that works a bit like the human eye to focus on tiny coral polyps. Photo: Emily L. A. Kelly / NGM

A new underwater microscope has a membrane that works a bit like the human eye to focus on tiny coral polyps. Photo: Emily L. A. Kelly / NGM

Two researchers from the University of California San Diego have developed an underwater microscope called the Benthic Underwater Microscope, or BUM, that allows divers to zoom in on wild corals and capture unprecedented features and behaviors. This new microscope is comprised of a lens, camera, and six bright LEDs that act as a flash contained within cylinder and controlled by an underwater computer.

One behavior documented the call “polyp kissing” where they saw that neighboring polyps would periodically lean across and press their mouths together. They suspect that the corals are, for whatever reason, exchanging food or nutrients.

more at nationalgeographic.com

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