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Fused Montastrea in Belize

14 300x200 Fused Montastrea in Belize

Close up of shared polyp between two colonies.

 I was recently going through pictures from my exploratory trip to Belize earlier this year. I was especially interested in coral that were growing in close contact with one another, and I took many pictures and videos of coral interactions. A relationship that struck me as particularly interesting was one between two colonies of Montastrea growing side by side. There was a streak of color in one colony leading from one coral to the other across the area where the two colonies met. I zoomed up with my camera and discovered that one of the polyps was shared by both colonies. I have seen this happen with many of my Acanthastrea echinata grafts (another coral species with high Thrausto counts), where only one area or polyp will fuse while the rest of the graft remains separated. I speculate that there is a regulation between the two corals’ immune systems, only at that location, aided by the presence of similar populations of Thraustochytridsymbionts. The white paper “Identification of a protist-coral association and its possible ecological role” by a team of scientists in Israel, (http://www.int-res.com/articles/meps2006/317/m317p067.pdf ) expounds on this idea. The article has several pictures that show the colored striations of Thrausto populations in several coral species. Enjoy this video of photos I took in Belize of the coral, starting close and zooming out from the shared polyp between the two colonies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dt3DCCCWUUMore:
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Cute Babies Turned into Cuter Sea Creatures


Ok, someone just turned the cuteness factor way up. Anne Geddes, a photographer well-known for her creative and adorable baby portraits, has created the best baby calendar in the world. Simply titled the “Under the Sea”, it features 12 unique scenes that have babies dressed up as mermaids, sea turtles, hermit crabs, nudibranchs, and even coral polyps. But it’s not just the babies that got all dressed up. The scenery created also involved a lot of work and planning. Each backdrop was handcrafted with such detail so as to truly capture the marine environment. We have never seen such aquatic cuteness all in one place.According to the video above from ET Now, the calendar photoshoot took nearly a year of planning and pre-production, 12 days of shooting, 20 babies, and probably a ton of patience. But this isn’t Anne’s first rodeo. MORE: Cute Babies Turned into Cuter Sea CreaturesMore:

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Oh Boy, Breaking News: Obama to Establish the World’s Largest Ocean Reserve in the Pacific

05e61df0 86bc 4ffb b36a df87c38f9a66 460x347 Oh Boy, Breaking News: Obama to Establish the Worlds Largest Ocean Reserve in the PacificBack on January 6, 2009, President George W. Bush established the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Incorporating nearly 86,888 miles within its boundaries, the monument covers nearly 50 nautical miles, including several pacific reefs within its reach. No surprise here, but Thursday September 25, 2014, President Barack Obama went about his preferred method and completely went over Congress to expand the monument to nearly 6 times its size – or about 490,000 miles. The above photo shows the size of the original monument, and a visual of what the expansion would look like is featured below. This expansion will ban commercial fishing and deep sea mining within the set borders – including the tiny state of Kiribati around the Pheonix Islands. That specific region will be protected within 158,000 square miles, or roughly the size of the state of California. The seas around four of those islands, Howland and Baker islands, Palmyra atoll and Kingman Reef, are excluded from the expansion due to protests from Hawaii-based tuna fleets and will be open to fishing. So what’s the goal here? Here’s a word from the White House on the matter: 

“Expanding the monument will more fully protect the deep coral reefs, seamounts, and marine ecosystems unique to this part of the world, which are also among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.” We have very few places left in the ocean that are still near pristine and it is very important to protect them,” said Enrique Sala, explorer-in-residence for National Geographic. “These marine protected areas are very important for the ocean. The reason why we are going to get more countries to do them is because the whole biosphere, including the fish, need to be able to regenerate,” she said. “If everyone is just fishing, fishing, fishing, there is no space for that to occur.”, explains=Catherine Novelli, undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment.

  It’s not clear how the expansion will effect collection of reef species within the aquarium trade – I’d be interested if anyone had further information on that. Read more about the whole plan at The Guardian. Also be sure to check out the official fact sheet on the expansion over at www.whitehouse.gov.
67a20981 5e4c 483f b23f 1d0aff10f18e bestSizeAvailable 300x220 Oh Boy, Breaking News: Obama to Establish the Worlds Largest Ocean Reserve in the Pacific    Oh Boy, Breaking News: Obama to Establish the Worlds Largest Ocean Reserve in the PacificMore:

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GHL Mitras Lightbar Announced in Smaller Sizes and More Colors

517cMitras Lightbar GHL Mitras Lightbar Announced in Smaller Sizes and More ColorsGHL is updating their Mitras Lightbar for 2014 by offering them up in one brand new color configuration and two new sizes. Where the first generation of the Lightbar saw its smallest fixture tipping the scales at roughly 60 cm in length, or just under two feet, the new nano models will be suited for 40 or 50 cm aquariums. This is a good move to hit those smaller desktop nano aquariums that are all the rage these days, and nano owners could certainly appreciate the access to this high end LED striplight.As for the new color, the Mitras LED striplight will now be available in a deep actinic. Prior to this release, the Lightbar was only available in a daylight (freshwater), actinic (saltwater), and an ocean blue (mix of fresh and salt) configuration. This new color offers up the deep blue that has become synonymous with reef aquaria and it gives users more options for color blending and bolstering coral coloration.The Mitras Lightbar fixtures for 40 and 50 cm nano tanks are currently available in the GHL webshop, and the deep actinic models will become available in mid-October.Features common to all models:Selected high-power-LEDs of Cree MORE: GHL Mitras Lightbar Announced in Smaller Sizes and More ColorsMore:

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Mutant White Yellow Tang Shows Up at Pacific Island Aquatics

442dWhite Yellow Tang Mutant White Yellow Tang Shows Up at Pacific Island AquaticsHere’s a totally awesome fish. Pacific Island Aquatics recently showed off this amazing aberrant yellow tang, which sports a large amount of white coloration instead of the normal solid yellow we’re so accustomed to. According to information posted on Reef2Reef, the fish was collected off the south side of Kona and tips the scales at just 4.5″ in length. This is about the average size for yellow tang sold in the aquarium hobby, if not a little bit larger, but it’s one of the smallest aberrant tangs collected. This makes it far more appealing than those huge aberrant tangs we normally see.The tang will be listed at $1500 (originally $2000), but PIA is entertaining reasonable offers. This is a pretty typical price for yellow tangs with this coloration.It should be noted that this is not an albino yellow tang. Rather, it is technically a leucistic yellow tang, meaning it’s simply lacking some of its natural pigmentation. This genetic condition results in the fish exhibiting significant white coloration, and in this case a small amount of yellow on its fins and random patches on its body. MORE: Mutant White Yellow Tang Shows Up at Pacific Island AquaticsMore:

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Coral Growth Plummets on GBR

A recent study has documented a historical decline in coral growth on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. A team led by Carnegie’s Ken Caldeira compared measurements of the rate of calcification on a segment of the GBR called Bird Island between 1975 and 1979 to those made at a neighboring Island in 2008 and 2009. The team found that the rates of calcification were 40 percent lower during the 2008-2009 period than in the 1975-1979 period. 140917121225 large 300x199 Coral Growth Plummets on GBR“Coral reefs are getting hammered,” said Caldeira. “Ocean acidification, global warming, coastal pollution, and overfishing are all damaging coral reefs. Coral reefs have been around for millions of years, but are likely to become a thing of the past unless we start running our economy as if the sea and sky matters to us very soon.” Read more here.… More:

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Specialist Species Targeted for Their Importance

Professor David Bellwood from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) in Australia has published an international study aimed at protecting the most important species within a reef ecosystem. “What we often assume is that if we lose one species on a reef, there are many others that can step in and take over their job,” explains Professor Bellwood. However, he and his colleagues believe a different theory that involves stressing the importance of “specialist” species that play very important and specific roles in maintaining the equilibrium of a reef. 140915153832 large Specialist Species Targeted for Their Importance“It’s not about numbers of species,” adds Professor David Mouillot from the University of Montpellier who led the team. “Biodiversity is important and desirable in an ecosystem, but it is not necessarily the key to being safe and secure.” Using a parrotfish for analogy Professor Bellwood adds: “The parrotfish is a particularly valuable species. To protect ecosystems, we need to ensure that specific jobs are maintained, and that means we must protect the fish that do them.” Read more here!  … More:

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Warming Waters Could Increase Dispersal of Invasive Species

Researchers from NOAA and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington have found that the increasing temperatures of our ocean waters may increase the range and dispersal of invasive species like the Lion Fish. “The results [of their study] will allow us to better understand how the fish communities might shift under different climate change scenarios and provide the type of environmental data to inform future decisions relating to the management and siting of protected areas,” says Paula Whitfield, a research ecologist at NOAA. Researchers used surface and sub-surface temperature readings while observing 40 different species of fish. They found the range of fish is directly correlated to the shifts in temperature shown throughout the differing zones. diver fish smaller 225x300 Warming Waters Could Increase Dispersal of Invasive Species“Globally, fish communities are becoming more tropical as a result of warming temperatures,  as fish move to follow their optimal temperature range.,” said Whitfield. “Along the North Carolina coast, warming water temperatures may allow the expansion of tropical fish species, such as lionfish, into areas that were previously uninhabitable due to cold winter temperatures. The temperature thresholds collected in this study will allow us to detect and to estimate fish community changes related to water temperature.” Read more here!More:

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