SQUIDMAN, ASSIST ME!

Galleons, meet Acropora nasuta, a colorful stony coral:

Besides being quite pretty, Acropora nasuta is interesting for another reason-

It’s motherfucking Aquaman.

Which, granted, might not seem very impressive (he is, after all, a bit of a ponce). But the coral is pretty neat. See, it’s not just people that go in and fuck with reefs. There are actually toxic species of seaweed that can destroy our pretty coral friend.

But fear not, my anthozoaphilic galleons, for the little coral is not defenseless. For it can CALL UPON THE CREATURES OF THE SEA TO SAVE IT.

Well, not sharks, which would be rather useless against seaweed, but rather gobies!

There are many species of gobies, and these little fish are among a multitude of aquatic life that make their home in coral reefs. But what makes these little guys unique in their neighborhoods is that they are the only ones who respond to distress signals from the seaweed-infested coral. Other fish, like damselfish, flee the coral when it’s in distress. “The neighbourhood is going to hell, we’re out of here,” Mark Hay, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, explained. “But the gobies both come out and trim the algae.”

The experiment was actually pretty fascinating. The research team exposed gobies to various selections of water. Sometimes, they took water from directly around the seaweed. Other times, they took it from where the seaweed and coral were in contact. They then exposed the gobies to these water samples. The gobies did not react to the seaweed only water, but moved toward the source of the seaweed/coral samples. But it only worked for their home coral- when the tests were run with a related coral species, the goby didn’t react at all.

Coral with goby residents have it made- they see a 30% reduction in the invading seaweed within three days. Some goby just straight up eat the seaweed, while other species just work to trim it away from the coral. Either way, the coral wins. And some gobies gain more than just a safe home- the seaweed also makes the little fish more toxic to predators.

Nature is way cooler than comic books.

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