Alaska Stylasterid Coral
Picture by: Unknown Picture taken on: April 3rd, 2011
Tags: coral stylasterid habitat deep
The skeletons of marine organisms often contain information about their life history and surrounding environment. Decoding this information relies upon chemical and physical clues within a skeleton. Examples of these skeletons include fish ear structures (otoliths), clam shells, and some plankton (like foraminifera). The data in these skeletons can be used to determine migration patterns, growth rate, water temperature, and other information. These skeletons can be viewed as data recorders, much like “black boxes” used in airplanes, constantly adding new data as time passes. The key to using these skeletal archives is to first understand the chemical and physical “language” each uses. To do this scientists perform detailed studies of how the animals make skeletons (biomineralization), how skeletons grow over time (sclerochronology), and how their different chemical properties form (biogeochemistry). NOAA has studied this type of work using deep water Stylasteridae corals. Since there are so many mysteries about the deep ocean, it is useful to understand the records contained in the corals that live there.
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