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Textures of the Great Barrier Reef

Coral is the most amazing stuff. It looks like rock, but it’s alive, and not rock at all but animal. The colonies are formed by millions of tiny soft-bodied polyps which have a hard outer skeleton that attaches to rock or to other (dead) coral skeletons. (More info about coral here.) And what a variety of corals there is! All the colours and textures that you can imagine, often growing around or on top of one another.

The ruffly yellow stuff looks rubbery, in contrast to the spikier coral behind it.

While snorkelling or diving around corals, it’s important to avoid touching them — not only can it damage the coral, but a person can get a nasty cut from those sharp edges.

What a mix of corals and textures here!

What IS that yellow stuff? It looks like spilled paint that has dried in wrinkles and folds.

I took some of these photos last week on the Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas (with a GoPro I hired for the day), and some on the Great Barrier Reef near Cairns three years ago (with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT20 I bought for the trip, but it was second hand and died after one outing).

This is brain coral, I believe. I imagine that if you brush your finger along it, the little white knobs would feel plush. But I have no idea!

That white coral looks smooth, but I’d steer clear of the spiky stuff at lower right!

A texture contrast here of hard coral and smooth, slippery fish.

This is a Maori Wrasse dubbed “Frank”! He’s very friendly, as these divers are discovering. I don’t dive (only snorkel) so did not get to pat Frank and discover his texture.

There are so many warnings about the health of the reef and the damage we (and nature, in the form of destructive storms and voracious starfish) are causing, that I feel now is the time to see this astonishing feature — while it’s still there.

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