BDN interviews UMaine Coral Club

The Bangor Daily News interviewed the recently formed University of Maine Coral Club and gave tips for keeping coral as a pet. “They are insanely gorgeous, the colors they produce. Everybody likes a good fish tank, but everyone likes it more when there’s corals in it,” said Megan Dunnock, the club’s president. “The chance to work with them has been fantastic. They’re like plants but better.” The club was established by a group of marine sciences students in 2017, and operates out of UMaine’s Aquaculture Research Center, the BDN reports. Corals, related to anemones and jellyfish, are animals that live in large colonies and make up coral reefs. The individual polyps have a sac-like body and a mouth surrounded by tentacles, differing widely in shape, size and color, the article states. Most corals build limestone skeletons using calcium and carbonate ions from seawater, and have a mutualistic relationship with algae living inside them — the coral provides the compounds for photosynthesis, and the algae provide the products. “The fact that they’re one of the largest producers of oxygen, they can protect our shores, they offer such an intense community for ocean animals, just everything about them I find incredible,” said Dunnock. But coral have experienced several mass die-offs over the past 20 years, linked to rising ocean temperatures that kill the algae and result in coral bleaching. The Coral Club consists of 30 students who meet weekly to discuss coral news, share knowledge and plan fundraising events to support their growing collection of coral. The group plans to continue to expand their collection and use it to educate and raise awareness, the BDN reported. To keep coral as a pet, a tank must be set up with a specific water salinity and temperature, constant water flow, special lighting and trace minerals. The article recommended specific resources for those interested in keeping coral.