Day Shift Night Shift
Coral reef species play vital roles in the economy of the reef ecosystem.  Their lives are controlled by the cycles of sun and moon. We are calling those that are active during daylight––“day shift” workers. Most species have evolved to be active either at night or during the day. There are a few predators that have elected to be active primarily at dawn and dusk, and another small group that is active both day and night. For example, all seaweeds and algae, of course, actively gather sunlight during the day. Most herbivores are primarily active only during the day. Almost all of the species active at night are carnivores. The animals featured in this section as part of the “Day Shift” are cast members of Turtle Reef 3D. This section is intended to provide a more detailed background about their ecology and is gathered from personal observations, peer reviewed scientific papers and sources such as Fishbase (www.fishbase.org). The Night Shift is composed of those species whose foraging activities are primarily confined to darkness. These nocturnal species are often recognizable by a number of characteristics that many of them share. For example, a good many of these species are either hidden away during the day, or appear to be generally inactive. Those that are hidden away, usually in caves, are often red in color, since red colors appears black at night. They also have very large eyes to gather the maximum light. Those that do not seek refuge in caves often gather in more or less static schools usually close to cover. These species usually leave their shelters more than an hour after sunset or even later, to coincide with the activity of their prey. For example, many species depend upon the vertical migration of fish and shrimps from the ocean’s depth that use darkness to forage in the shallows. Nocturnal predators must wait until their prey arrives. The first to venture out at night are usually the first to return in the morning hours.