Abstract

We present an experimental and numerical study of the effects of multiple scattering on the optical properties of reef-building corals. For this, we propose a simplified optical model of the coral and describe in some detail methods for characterizing the coral skeleton and the layer containing the symbiotic algae. The model is used to study the absorption of light by the layer of tissue containing the microalgae by means of Monte Carlo simulations. The results show that, through scattering, the skeleton homogenizes and enhances the light environment in which the symbionts live. We also present results that illustrate the modification of the internal light environment when the corals loose symbionts or pigmentation.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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