Author Archives: Chris Jury

Chris Jury

About Chris Jury

I grew up in Michigan, hunting turtles, frogs, and other wonderful, creepy things. In high school I became particularly interested in coral reefs and set up my first reef tank in 2001--a modest 10 gal tank. I soon upgraded that tank and, as they say, the rest is history. I'm currently a Ph.D. candidate in biological oceanography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where I investigate coral calcification and coral responses to global change.
Latest Posts

Hawaiian megatsunamis

 Imagine a wave, a giant wave, rushing inland toward you. Imagine it keeps coming, and coming without any end in sight. You’re thinking of a tsunami. Now imagine the wave is more than 1000 ft high (300 m), enough to engulf the bottom 2/3 of the Empire State Building. This is a megatsunami. Speaking at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, Dr. Gary McMurty (a professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, and co-instructor for a couple of geology courses I took as a grad student here UHM) reported his recent work showing that over the last 4 million years the Hawaiian Islands have experienced at least 15 megatsunamis. Unlike typical tsunamis, which are usually driven by earthquakes, Hawaiian megatsunamis are driven by catastrophic landslides as large sections of the volcanoes that build the islands cleave off and cavitate the ocean. Surprisingly, these landslides are… More:

Snow shark

 Check out this incredible snow sculpture by Fran Volz. You can see more of his work here.… More:

Protecting American Samoa’s island of giants

 In partnership with the Samoan people, NOAA has just announced the establishment of a new National Marine Sanctuary in American Samoa. Fagatele Bay in American Samoa had previously been established as a National Marine Sanctuary (one of only 14 such sanctuaries, along with the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, encompassing the Northwest Hawaiian Islands), however, this new sanctuary dramatically enlarges the protected area. The largest addition comes via a huge, square protected area around Rose Atoll, but includes several other additions. Just to put the size of the sanctuary into perspective, with these latest additions it is slightly larger than the state of Maryland. Especially significant is the addition of a large fraction of the waters surrounding Ta’u Island, which is home to some of the largest, oldest tropical corals in the world. One especially large Porites cf. lutea colony measures 7 m (23 ft) tall, 12-17 m (40-56 ft) across, and 41 m (135 ft) around. Based on measured growth rates for the species, this coral is estimated to be at least 360-800 yrs old, but could be much older. See a video of the exciting news here:

Extreme low tide at Coconut Island

Porites compressa on the reef flat sitting high high and fry during an extreme low tide.

 The Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology (where I perform much of my research as a graduate student) is located on Coconut Island–or Moku o Loe, in the Hawaiian–in Kāne’ohe Bay on the island of O’ahu, HI. The island is surrounded by a wonderful fringing reef with a well developed reef flat. A major feature of the oceans is the tidal cycle. The tides are driven primarily by the gravity of the moon, and secondarily by the gravity of the sun. When the gravity of the moon and the sun pull on the ocean at approximately a right angle to each other we get the so-called neap tides, which have the smallest tidal range (the difference between high tide and low tide) for the month. We get neap tides around during the first quarter and the third quarter of the lunar cycle (i.e., twice per month). When the gravity of the moon and sun pull… More:

A short tale and thoughts on how hardy corals really are

Photo courtesy Charlie Veron - Panoramio

 A few weeks ago the Hawaiian Islands were hit with a series of major storms. These caused substantial flooding in many parts of the state. For example, Lihue on the island of Kauai set a new rainfall record on May 5th of 8.64 in., obliterating the old record of 1.14 in. and topping the all-time record of 6.7 in. Over the course of a few days most parts of the state received at least 3″ of rain with the rainest parts getting on the order of 12-36″ of rain. We also had crazy lightning and hail in a few locations. In fact, a hailstone collected from here in Kaneohe, where I live and where the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) is located, was measured at 4.25 in. across, setting a new record for the state. It was a crazy week, let me tell ya. For a few days, the inner portion of Kaneohe Bay (HIMB is located on Coconut Island in Kaneohe Bay, and the Bay is full of coral reefs) looked like a mud muddle. I happened to be working on the island… More:

Breakthrough in octopus communication

 Education researchers at Oregon Sea Grant’s Free-Choice Learning Lab, housed at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC), have discovered a way to translate octopus gestures to human speech. This project was unveiled on April 1, 2012.… More:

Banning aquarium fishing in Hawai’i, or how good ideas go astray

For the Fishes is an advocacy group based here in Hawai’i that has been one of the leaders in the movement to ban fishing for the aquarium trade in the Hawaiian Islands. I recently had an exchange with For the Fishes on their facebook page which I hope adds a useful voice to this discussion and which I have reproduced below. This post is from a conversation that had already begun, so my apologies if parts of it seem somewhat disjointed–they are in response to previous comments made by For the Fishes. Update: It seems that a dissenting voice (or at least my dissenting voice) was not appreciated by For the Fishes as this comment was deleted from their facebook page not long after I posted it. 

For the Fishes, you’re putting an awful lot of words in my mouth. You ask what my bias would be on ocean acidification (OA) if my hobby were mining coal? Well, I would give up mining coal because it’s causing OA. Likewise, if or where I see the aquarium trade causing harm I have and will continue to actively work to prevent it.

You seem to suggest that having kept aquariums in the past means that I cannot have an objective view on the impacts of the aquarium trade and am biased in favor of it. However, … More:

Old seagrass…really, really old seagrass


Meadows of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica in the Mediterranean. Photos by M. San Felix.

 Some organisms are able to reproduce asexually through fragmentation. A familiar example is most corals which you can slice, dice, and fricassee and still grow into separate colonies. While this is a common mode of reproduction for many branching corals in nature, even mounding corals that are not as apt to be boken up into pieces can reproduce in this way, making fragmentation a viable option for captive propagation in almost all coral species. This type of growth is usually referred to as vegetative growth since many plants can be grown from cuttings whereas fragmentation of most animals (e.g., cats, dogs, fish) doesn’t go so well. Hence, corals are somewhat unusual among animals in that they can reproduce vegetatively. Some organisms not only can reproduce vegetatively, they make a habit of it. In particular, seagrasses reproduce sexually by flowering and they send out runners from which they grow more and more seagrass shoots. Colonial corals, which includes most species, function in the same way–each polyp in a colony is simply a clone of its… More: is the world's leading destination for sustainable coral reef farming and the aquarium hobby. We offer a free open forum and reef related news and data to better educate aquarists and further our goals of sustainable reef management.