#5269 – Bamboo Coral
2018 50c Bioluminescent Life
Value: 50¢ 1-ounce first-class letter rate- Forever
Issued: February 22, 2018
First Day City: Fort Pierce, FL
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Format: Pane of 20
Quantity Printed: 40,000,000 stamps
Found at the floor of the Pacific Ocean, bamboo coral appears to be an unassuming creature until something brushes up against it. Then it lights up like a Christmas tree.
There are several different species of bamboo coral found all over the world. Growing up to five feet tall, the white bamboo coral is found in its largest numbers in the Pacific Ocean. With a skeleton made of calcium carbonate, these underwater trees can closely resemble their on-land counterparts. They are similar to trees in another way – bamboo coral have growth rings. Scientists use these rings to study how the ocean has changed over time. While bamboo coral generally live for 75 to 125 years, some have been found to be 4,000 years old. So bamboo coral can tell a long and detailed story of life in their part of the ocean.
On any given day, white bamboo coral sit swaying in the ocean current, allowing their long arms to catch small particles of food. However, if a larger creature comes along and touches these arms, they light up bright blue and release large amounts of slime. Scientists believe bamboo coral light up in this way to scare away predators, as their prickly spines are coated in toxic slime. With such a dramatic warning system, the bamboo coral ensures a long life that scientists will then be able to study.