Category Archives: Corals

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Florida’s Reefs Go Digital

 I’ve written about it before here, but Google Map, thanks to Catlin Seaview Survey, is coming to an underwater reef near you. Eventually, our reefs will be documented in the same way as our streets are. This is a remarkable feet in being able to capture and study the health of our Ocean’s reef in a level that was not achievable before this technology. Up until now, the camera’s have focused on underwater reefs outside the United States. I am happy to say that a place near to my heart, the Florida Keys, will be the first American Reef to be photographed and available for underwater viewing. MOREMore:

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BP Oil Spill Continues to Destroy Marine Life

The deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill of 2010 has largely been written off by the media and its perpetrators as “dissipated” or “contained,” yet the affects of releasing millions of gallons of oil into the sea are still wide reaching, says a team of researchers from Penn State University. Charles Fisher, professor of biology at Penn State University framed the issue stating: “The footprint of the impact of the spill on coral communities is both deeper and wider than previous data indicated. “This study very clearly shows that multiple coral communities, up to 22 kilometers from the spill site and at depths over 1800 meters, were impacted by the spill.” Using a remote operated vehicle (ROV) Fisher and his team were able to capture high resolution photo’s of coral communities, finding that the oil had affected marine life further than one had expected from the spill site. tfisher mc297 2 7 2014 BP Oil Spill Continues to Destroy Marine Life “We were looking for coral communities at depths of over 1000 meters that are often smaller than the size of a tennis court,” added Fisher.“We needed high-resolution images of the coral colonies that are scattered across these communities and that range in size from a small houseplant to a small shrub. With the cameras on board the ROV we were able to collect beautiful, high-resolution images of the corals,” said Fisher. “When we compared these images with our example of known oil damage, all the signs were present providing clear evidence in two of the newly discovered coral communities of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.” Read more here.  … More:

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Human Induced Feed Loop is Cause for Coral Decline

A new study performed by a San Diego State University team adds to the conversation about commercial fishing and inhabited islands around the Pacific. Many recent studies have shown how the presence of humans on an island, and in this case the act of commercial fishing along shores, can cause dramatic changes to surrounding reefs. “Corals are fierce competitors for space on the reef,” Add’s lead author Linda Kelly. “In a healthy marine environment, reefs support a vibrant population of corals and other calcifying organisms that continuously build the reef skyward.”Coral algae reef Human Induced Feed Loop is Cause for Coral Decline
Kelly and her team sampled surface water from 22 reefs on 11 atolls just south of Hawaii, sequencing millions of DNA from bacteria, viruses, and protists. What she and her team found was that specific bacteria can determine the amount of coral cover vs the amount of algae cover on a reef. Identifying which microorganisms influence key factors on a reef like metabolic processes will contribute to the techniques and approaches used in reef conservation. 
“How do you create an environment for corals to thrive?” Kelly asked. “In addition to practicing sustainable fishing, one way to rehabilitate a reef would be to transplant corals to the site. This should promote an environment more conducive to coral growth by fostering a beneficial community of microorganisms.” Read more here and get the full publication here!More:

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New Coral Discovered In Red Sea

coral saudi New Coral Discovered In Red SeaI was fortunate enough to spend several years working as a marine biologist in the Red Sea off the Coast of Saudi Arabia. During my frequent dive trips, I had always hoped of discovering a new coral species. Alas, it looks like someone, well actually some scientists, have beat me to it. saudi coral 2 New Coral Discovered In Red SeaScientists have just discovered a new hard coral species, Pachyseris inattesa, in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea. The discovery is the latest in the ‘Biodiversity in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea Project’. This project started in 2012 with the goal of understanding the diversity in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea.Perhaps I will make it back to Saudi Arabia for the next discovery. Goes to show you there is plenty more to be discovered in our Oceans. MOREMore:

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Reef Threads Podcast #194

reefthreads1 Reef Threads Podcast #194

Arm of a basket starfish.This week we talk about something for beginners and something for veterans. The beginner segment is mistakes to a avoid and the veteran segment is what to think about before turning your hobby into a business. We also learn that some people go to reef events carrying their own autograph pen so that they’re at the ready when a signature is requested. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Gary and Christine More: Reef Threads Podcast #194

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Endangered Bumphead Gets Much Needed Attention

Ever wonder where that vividly white sand on the beach comes from? Underwater giants produce the sand themselves through biological methods of metabolism. Yep thats right its technically fish poop. One of the largest producers of sand is the Parrotfish which ingests calcium carbonate skeletons of coral (sometimes with living polyps) and excretes them back out in the form of tiny sand grains that wash up onto beaches. These fish are the topic of a recent study highlighting how the both the positive and negative influences of such endangered species can be key factors in the success of an ecosystem. Bumphead Stiefel Endangered Bumphead Gets Much Needed Attention

Douglas McCauly of the University at Santa Barbara explains his time in the field for this study: “We actually swam alongside Bumphead Parrotfish for close to six hours at a time, taking detailed data on what they ate and where they went. These large parrotfish crunch off entire pieces of reef and audibly grind them up into sand in their pharyngeal mill — specialized teeth in the back of their throat. You know Bumpheads are near when you begin noticing branches lopped off stony corals and golf-like divot scars marking the reef.

bite ENH Endangered Bumphead Gets Much Needed Attention“Most species do things to ecosystems that we would construe as both positive and negative. This viewpoint is ecologically misleading,” he states. “Endangered species are no different from their more abundant counterparts.” This dichotomy of influence is why McCauly and his team are pushing for a higher level of protection for endangered and threatened species adding: “We can, in fact, strengthen the integrity of the field of conservation biology by being rigidly objective about the observations we make in nature — even if this means reporting occasionally that rare species can damage ecosystems,” he added. “If anything, better understanding the full complement of ways that at-risk species use and affect their environment empowers us to more effectively protect them.” Read more here.… More:

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Survival of the Fattest and Most Flexible Corals Amidst Climate Change

O faveolata polyps.3624d4b5 Survival of the Fattest and Most Flexible Corals Amidst Climate Change
Coral reefs are theorized to annual undergo a “bleaching” event in where corals die off as a result of ecological changes. As climate change rears its ugly head those impacts are slowly becoming a human issue. Researchers from Ohio State University have found that while some corals are whipped clean in a bleaching event others are adapting, along with their symbiotic partners, to the changes and becoming less susceptible to environmental extremes. “We found that some coral are able to acclimatize to annual bleaching, while others actually become more susceptible to it over time,” said 
Andréa Grottoli, professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State. She and her team found that by keeping a large fat/energy reserve in the cells of zooxanthellae, corals can acclimatize, and thus recover, from a bleaching even much more easily than those that do not.

Grottoli concludes stating: “We found that the research on single bleaching events is misleading. Species that we think are resilient to temperature stress are actually susceptible and vice versa when stressed annually. We’re actually a bit optimistic, because we showed that there’s acclimation in a one-year window, that it’s possible. In two of our three coral species, we have recovery in six weeks. The paths they took to recovery are different, but they both got there.” Read more here!… More:

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Clearing the Air on Ozone: Part 1

ozone1 1 Clearing the Air on Ozone: Part 1The use of ozone in home aquaria is far from a new idea. In fact, 20+ years ago, ozone was commonly used by both public aquaria and hobbyists alike. I experimented with the use of ozone on my classroom system a little over a decade ago. However, the system I invested in was of very poor quality. We had two probes fail in less than a year, and the monitor indicated that our generator had also failed to continue to generate the gas. Needless to say, I dropped out of ozone, having experienced mixed results at best. Fast forward to three years ago More: Clearing the Air on Ozone: Part 1More:

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