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elizevolschenk's avatar

Is it true that white coral changes colour when removed from the ocean.

Asked by elizevolschenk (1points) January 10th, 2011

Does white coral turn dark brown when removed from the ocean, if it is used as an ornament.

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3 Answers

funkdaddy's avatar

We had a big piece of white coral that my grandpa had given us sitting on a shelf. It never turned brown.

This may be something that differs by species of coral and whether it’s alive or dead when it’s removed though.

thorninmud's avatar

Live coral isn’t white. The white part is the calcium skeleton, but that’s covered by the bajillions of living polyps. If those have died and the dead polyps are scoured away by currents and consumed by other organisms prior to the collection of the coral, then the white skeleton that remains will stay white. But if you took a piece of living coral—or one that had dead polyps still in the pores—out of the water, all of that organic matter would turn brown.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@thorninmud is correct. Though I should also note only coral that contains a calcium carbonate skeleton will be able to be saved in this manner. All other non sclerite coral will simply melt away to nothing once it dies.

@thorninmud There is plenty of live coral that is white. Its just non photosynthetic. The color in which coral displays is from the zooxanthellae algae it symbiotically hosts within its body. There are many species however that live at depths in which the sunlight can not penetrate so the animal depends on micro-organisms in the water column that they catch with nematocytes at the end of their tentacles.

I really hope your not taking coral out of the ocean though or supporting such a thing. Its one thing to take a piece thats already completely dead(though even these provide structure for the next generation to grow) its another to take live colonies just for ornamental purposes which is often the case.

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