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Rare Azooxanthellate Stony Corals in Japan: Part 3

Flabellum sp.

Note the more lenticular shape of this compared to Truncatoflabellum spheniscus. Credit: Kapaguy

Note the more lenticular shape of this compared to Truncatoflabellum spheniscus. Credit: Kapaguy

 There are a few species this might be (pavoninum, magnificum, politum, angustum), and a skeleton would need to be examined to determine an identification. Whatever this is, very few images exist of it, but the green fluorescent oral disc makes this one easily recognizable.More:

Rare Azooxanthellate Stony Corals in Japan: Part 2

Caryophyllia cf scobinosa

Note this specimen seems to have been damaged and regrown. Credit: unknown

Note this specimen seems to have been damaged and regrown. Credit: unknown

 This small species is part of an immense genus of some 77 recognized taxa, though not all of these are thought to form a single group, and new genera are likely to be described in due course. Some eleven species are reported from Japanese waters by Cairns, and this species is tentatively identified as C. cf scobinosa based on its cornucopia-like shape. It is reported from waters below 500m.More:

Sunscreen and Its Effects Upon Coral Reefs

A team of international researchers including professor and diver John Fauth from the University of Southern Florida have battled the sun in a study where they measured the devestating effects of a compound found in commercial Sunscreen, upon coral reefs. “The use of oxybenzone-containing products  needs to be seriously deliberated in islands and areas where coral reef conservation is a critical issue,” Downs said. “We have lost at least 80 percent of the coral reefs in the Caribbean. Any small effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could mean that a coral reef survives a long, hot summer, or that a degraded area recovers. Everyone wants to build coral nurseries for reef restoration, but this will achieve little if the factors that originally killed off the reef remain or intensify in the environment.”  john-fauth2-548x365Laboratory experiments that exposed coral larvae and cells to increased saturated levels of oxybenzone and conclude both genetic and physical damage was done to both. Larvae exposed to levels similar to those detected in samples collected around reefs were were trapped in their own skeletons, unable to disperse into the water column. The DNA of coral cells was also inhibited or completely destroyed by Oxybenzone causing an an increase in bleaching frequency in seven different types of coral. The team concluded that: “Oxybenzone poses a hazard to coral reef conservation, and threatens the resiliency of coral reefs to climate change.” And that instead of lathering up the lotion we should “Wear rash guards or scuba wetsuits and skip all the hygienic products when you go diving,” added Fauth. “If we could do it for a week at a time, people can certainly forgo it for a few hours to help protect these reefs for our children and their children to see.” Read the abstract and purchase the paper here!… More:

Rare Azooxanthellate Stony Corals in Japan: Part 1

The selection of non-photosynthetic stony corals at your average fish store is not typically a very diverse lot. You may find a species or two of
Tubastraea; if you’re lucky, you may spy a Dendrophyllia or Rhizopsammia. And if that shop really brings in the rare stuff, you may catch a glimpse of a Rhizotrochus typus or Petrophyllia rediviva. But beyond that, there is not much else. More:

Colorful Brain Coral

Good morning friends, how was the weekend??? Mine went by like a flash as usual and as I sit here now I can barely recall what I did. Yesterday I met three friends at 6:30 in the morning and we rode the Curacao extreme mountain bike race course or at least 30 miles of it. Our ride took around 3 hours and most of it was spent pushing into some of the worst winds I have ever ridden in, talk about zero fun… NEWER POST:

P. cylindrica Found to Self-Regulate PH in Calcifying Fluids

Researchers from the University of Western Australia (Coral CoE) and the University of Queensland have found that coral colonies of Parapersis cylindrica can self-regulate the PH of their own internal calcifying fluids to combat the increase in thermal stress caused by global warming. “This is most likely only typical to corals from reefs such as Heron Island lagoon where temperature and pH fluctuations vary greatly on daily to seasonal basis. The next step in this research is to explore if P. cylindrica colonies from more stable environments also have the ability to adapt and if they too can ‘hold up’ to increased acidity,” says Georgiou. says lead author, Lucy Georgiou. 151006111632_1_900x600 These findings create a whole new approach to understanding the relation of calcifying coral to the far reaching effects of ocean acidification. Pictured here you’ll see how researchers implemented an innovative technology dubbed FOCE (Free Ocean Carbon Enrichment) that allowed them to study P. cylindrica colonies in their natural environment, and because the Heron Island lagoon undergoes dramatic daily and seasonal fluctuations in the acidity of its waters, it was  a perfect place to implement their study. “Our research shows that some corals living in dynamic reef systems (P. cylindrica) have the ability to maintain a nearly constant pH within their calcifying fluid, regardless of the pH of the surrounding environment. This enables them to continue to form their calcium carbonate skeleton even under relatively low pH conditions.” The team plans to expand on their findings and “explore what impact rising sea temperature has on the corals ability to maintain its internal pH,” concludes Georgiou. Read the entire paper here!… More:

Assessing the Esthetic Beauty of Coral Reefs

As active owners of captive reef environments we naturally appeal to the brightest coral, or most visually stunning morphologies of imported specimens, but for the first time ever scientists from San Diego State University have created a computation that will measure the esthetic “beauty” of wild coral reefs. The system developed was created through a cross-discipline model that involved mathematicians, biologists, and art historians to develop a computer model that assess photographic images of coral reefs. Researchers compiled a list of 109 visual features that the program uses to asses things like size, color intensity, and distribution of corals to determine whether or not a reef ecosystem is healthy. “Our results suggest that our perception of aesthetics is well-aligned with healthy, thriving ecosystems,” said Andreas Haas, an SDSU postdoctoral scholar and primary researcher of the study. 151110082106_1_900x600 This method of assessment was developed on the basis that our natural ability to observe and perceive a healthy environment is not merely subjective to esthetic “beauty.” The paper, ‘Can we measure beauty? Computational evaluation of coral reef aesthetics,’ was published November 10th, 2015 in the open access scientific journal “By quantifying aesthetic features of coral reef systems, this method provides a cost effective tool that also targets one of the most important socioeconomic values of coral reefs — their natural beauty,” Haas said. The model created provides an easier, and possibly less expensive option, for researchers assessing the health of coral reefs, and that will hopefully reduce the amount of time it takes for assessment. Read the entire publication here! 


Balanced Diet Aids in Bleaching Recovery

The University of Miami Rosenstiel School research team published a recent study showing the importance of a balanced diet while corals are recovering from thermal stress. The UM Rosenstiel School research team published a study back in 2015 that highlighted the critically endangered Staghorn coral and how it benefits from supplemental nutrition to withstand thermal stress, a first and only study to study a three-way interaction between the two types of nutrient enrichment and thermal stress on coral health. This study has expanded on those findings and provides given more data for thermal stress models. “We found that the coral’s resilience to thermal stress totally depends on the kind of inorganic enrichment — if it’s ‘balanced’ or not,” said Erica Towle, an alumna of the UM Rosenstiel School. Researchers tested two nutrient rich and thermally induced scenarios with Turbinaria reniformis, a calcium based coral. 151001153933_1_900x600Collected from the Red Sea specimens were placed into separate tanks and were subjected to either a nitrogen rich environment, or a nitrogen and phosphorus based environment. Both of which are common scenarios for reefs with close proximity to industrial and residential runoff. While a nitrogen rich environment coupled with zooplankton feeding made heat related bleaching events worse, an environment right in nitrogen while in combination with extra phosphorus and zooplankton provide the coral nutrient-based resilience to bleaching. “Excess nutrients from land sources and thermal stress will likely occur in concert in the future so it’s important to assess them together. Incorporating nutrient levels in thermal bleaching models will likely be very important for coral reef managers in the future as ocean waters warm.” concludes Erica Towle, an alumna of the University of Miami Rosenstiel School. Read more here!… 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.