Photo: Scott Sporleder

The Hidden World of Cold Water Coral

by Scott Sporleder Nov 11, 2016

300 ft. Tall pylons covered with cotton candy… a bit basic, but that’s more or less how I would describe the colors of the cold water coral which you find attached to the structures beneath offshore oil platforms. In this shot, you see a perfect example of how water absorbs color & light. @kyle.mcb is a killer underwater photographer and is in close range to the pylon, his camera and lights pointed straight at a section and you can see the actual colors of the marine life attached to the structure — that blob of orange/red and white are what all those pylons look like up close. It’s honestly some of the most beautiful underwater color displays I’ve ever seen. Hundreds of feet of vibrant life — rather spectacular and a stark contrast to the amount of reefs worldwide that have died off and lost all their color to coral bleaching.

What’s interesting in this shot is the way everything that is not touched by Kyle’s lights looks. So, what’s a better way to start your morning than with a little lesson in underwater light refraction?

Water begins to absorb color immediately as we descend. In the first 10 feet we lose most of the red, some of the orange, and a small amount of the yellow. By the time we reach 25 feet of depth we have lost most of the orange colors and at 35 feet nearly all of the yellow is gone, leaving only green, blue, indigo, and violet.

At 50 feet we begin to lose green and it is completely filtered out at 100 feet, leaving blue as the predominant color.

This image was taken just past 50 feet deep, that’s the reason why just about the only color which naturally remains visible to the eye is blue.

Thank you again to the team @rig2reefexplorers for letting me join and the amazing job they’re doing! Trying to turn these monstrosities into positive forces for badly beaten environment is no easy feat, so all the respect in the world to them. Check out their page and all the good things they’re up to.

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