In a tropical shore, where a great river empties into the sea, there is a zone of very high tides. The water level rises and falls by meters every day. In this challenging ecosystem, alternately baked under the tropical sun and drowned in salt-water, a species of corals has developed that is able to survive. When submerged, the coral polyps filter feed on nutrients washed down by the river. In the sun, symbiotic algae photosynthesize and produce energy.
These corals have built up great structures like termite mounds in the tidal flats. These mounts go no higher than the tides come in, for the corals must be submerged part of the day to survive. But there are great forces at work in this flood plain, forces that would destroy these coral monuments. The combination of rising tide and monsoon-swollen floods from the river create ferocious tidal bores. Cyclones built up over thousands of miles of tropical seas to the north slam into the seashore with sustained 200 kph winds multiple times a year, pushing enormous storm surges with them.
Can corals build up structures fast enough to survive the damage caused by this punishing environment? Or will the forces of wind and flood and tide pulverize the coral's would-be protective skeletons?
- Assume the coral and its symbiotic zooxanthellae are evolved to survive the sun/submerge cycle.
- Assume the coral is subjected to the same limitations on growth speed as on earth.
- The 'coral' does not have to be coral! If another species of skeleton forming creature (mussels? barnacles?) is better for this task, that is acceptable.