Expansive finger coral reefs such as this were common a few decades ago, but sadly today it is becoming less and less easy to find pristine examples. The one pictured here is located near Sandy Island, but unfortunately it is beginning to succumb to damage and no longer looks like this today (the photograph was taken in 2008). Finger coral is not as susceptible to disease as some of the other massive reef building corals so it is not particularly clear why this species is also in decline, although its delicate structures mean it can be easily damaged (for example through increased storm frequency), and a shift in the algae-coral balance means colonies are often smothered as they struggle for space and light. Despite this sad story, it still gives me great pleasure to see intact colonies such as this, and I always optimistically hope “maybe this one will still be around for my kids to see”.
Originally posted on instagram @sea_anguilla with the text: Huge colony of Finger Coral forming part of the reefs around Sandy Island. Such colonies would have one day been common around Anguilla, as attested by their remains still visible in places such as Shoal Bay East reef and the extensive Seal Island Reef system. Reasons for their decline remain unclear but it is a likely due to complex interactions between factors such as increases in nutrient rich water, sea surface temperature and fishing, leading to a decrease in overall reef resilience. So do your bit and be nice to the undersea world.