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Earth Matters

January Puzzler Answer: Arrecife Alacranes

February 5th, 2015 by Kathryn Hansen



The January 2015 puzzler (top image) might look like bacteria in a petri dish—many guesses played off some variation of that theme. However, if you answered “coral reef,” you were on the right track.

Alexandre Mathieu was the fist to submit a comment to our Earth Matters blog suggesting that the image was a reef. There were also some good guesses on Facebook, such as this post (and poem!) from Clinton Rivers:

This looks like a coral reef
Like Great Barrier or perhaps Belize

A sign from space Of co-operation! 
Down below in the coral nation

Polyps grow and work together 
With a tiny algae called zooxanthellae

Their carbon capture is solar powered 
In warm waters you may see their towers 

Together they can build a home
Lots of them a reef or dome

An example for us fresh from the ocean 
To live on this earth in Symbiosis

The puzzler, however, proved too obscure for anyone to correctly identify the reef’s location. The puzzle image showed the middle portion of Arrecife Alacranes (bottom image)—a reef in the southern Gulf of Mexico, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Progresso, Mexico. Read the Image of the Day caption to learn more.

It’s rare for a puzzler to stump all of our savvy readers. That’s not our goal, but it’s a fine line between images that are too easy and too hard. Had we cropped the image to include any of the five small islands in the area, we would likely have been flooded with correct answers almost immediately! Tune in next month for a puzzler that will likely be a bit more identifiable.

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