what is love

What is love and can it be expressed in non humans? I think the answer is that love is many things, and that it most certainly can.  In nature, there are many displays of love, and one of my favorites is in coral.

Zooxanthellae and coral polyps, coral polyps and zooxanthellae-a love story of the ages, Will Shakespeare himself wrote about it, it is so poetically lyrical.    But if love is taking care of each other, living with each other, accepting each other, and helping each other, then certainly this is love.

First, some background.


Zooxanthellae are a photosynthetic algae.  It uses light to create oxygen, glucose, glycerol and amino acids.


Coral polyps are the tiny animals that form the base of coral reefs by cloning themselves.  They are related to anemones and jellyfish.

Coral polyps  give a home to zooxanthellae in their very tissue.  In return for providing a home, zooxanthellae create products with light that are food and the very substance to make polyp exoskeletons.  They need each other to survive.


Moreso, when coral and zooxanthellae are living in happy harmony, the algae provides coral with its beautiful and vibrant colors.  A happy relationship provides beauty, which in turn provides a home and food to 25% of all marine life, as coral reefs are frequently called the rain forest of the ocean.


When a coral polyp is stressed because of rising water temperatures; whenever it is blocked from seeing the sunlight; whenever the water quality suffers; it may expel its zooxanthellae mate, making the coral lose it’s color and take on a pale and bleached appearance.

healthy coral next to bleached coral

Although not dead-coral polyps are in danger of dying if they can’t get healthy enough to take their mates back on, as they rely on the relationship to survive. Coral bleaching can lead to coral death, which leads to loss of habitat.

bleached coral

Although not everyone would call this love, what is love? Can it be defined solely in turns of human relationships? In the ocean, there are many symbiotic relationships that could be considered allegorically as love stories.

oh Romeo-

Happy Valentines Day-


information from NOAA


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s