Aurora Borialgae

(Autus fervens)

Aurora Borialgae is the unfortunate common name for one of the more spectacular species of reef-building organisms on Poseidon. In the Pacifica Archipelago, borialgae occurs only in the Westcape region, though biologists have reported a wider, tropical distribution.

Borialgae is actually a protist analog, and has more in common with plants than terrestrial coral polyps. It grows in only very shallow, nutrient-rich waters, and is most abundant at sites enriched by deep-ocean upwelling. The species is a colonial organism that grows in massive, monogenetic patch reefs that can stretch for dozens of kilometers. The individual organisms are small, fleshy clusters that surround themselves with crusty, interconnected, calcitic shells, extracted ion by ion from Poseidon's mineral rich waters.

The algae varies in color from dark purples, browns, and greens to gold, yellow, and pale orange. The calcium shell is pale and translucent, but trace minerals presumably washed from the Westcape mainland are incorporated into the calcium compounds, giving the reef structure itself a rusty iron hue.

The borialgae reef material is relatively soft and crumbles easily, giving the growths extremely sharp edges and creating a severe hazard for any swimmer or cetacean unfortunate enough to brush against the reef.

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