coral tagged posts

Race To Decode Coral DNA

Coral bleaching

Marine biologist Ruth Gates sat down in an oversized wooden rocking chair at an oceanside resort here last week to talk about the next frontier in coral science and a new hope for saving coral reefs reeling from climate change: genetic technology.

“There are hundreds of species of coral, all with complex biologies and physiological traits that vary based on their DNA and environment,” Gates, director of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, said while seated on a sprawling lanai overlooking acres of coral reefs awash in turquoise waters.

“Using genetic technology to identify corals resilient to environmental stressors may allow us to save corals – which are some of the most threatened organisms on Earth,” added Gates, a leading coral scientist who was featured in the new docume...

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Diving harming Indonesia’s coral reefs

Coral vandalism

Diving and snorkeling contribute to coral reef damage according to research by the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB).

The study, conducted at Panggang Island in the Thousand Islands regency between April and June 2013, found that diving and snorkeling in the area had destroyed 7.57 percent and 8.2 percent of coral reefs per year, respectively due to divers or snorkelers who kicked, stepped on, touched or took the coral.

WWF Indonesia marine and fisheries campaign coordinator Dwi Aryo Tjiptohandono said that the main cause of damage to the reefs was the amateur divers’ inability to float and irresponsible divers who took coral for souvenirs.

According to a recent report by kompas.com, vandalized coral reefs were also found in Raja Ampat in West Papua...

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Giant Coral Reef shows new signs of Life

Coral Castles

In 2003, researchers declared Coral Castles dead. On the floor of a remote island lagoon halfway between Hawaii and Fiji, the giant reef site had been devastated by unusually warm water. Its remains looked like a pile of drab dinner plates tossed into the sea. Research dives in 2009 and 2012 had shown little improvement in the coral colonies.

Then in 2015, a team of marine biologists was stunned and overjoyed to find Coral Castles, genus Acropora, once again teeming with life. But the rebound came with a big question: Could the enormous and presumably still fragile coral survive what would be the hottest year on record?
This month, the Massachusetts-based research team finished a new exploration of the reefs in the secluded Phoenix Islands, a tiny Pacific archipelago, and were thrilled b...
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Third mass bleaching event, will corals survive?

bleached stag horn coral

The world is experiencing its third mass coral bleaching event. Due to elevated temperatures at tropical locations over the whole planet, large populations of corals are starting to turn white. This is bad, as bleaching can lead to large-scale decreases in coral health and ultimately their death. Coral reefs provide shorelines with protection from storms, are foundational to tropical tourism and provide critical habitat to thousands of species. Large-scale coral death following mass bleaching leads to reef erosion, loss of shoreline protection, loss of tourism income and the livelihoods that depend on them, and loss of critical habitat.

Following the last mass bleaching event in 1997-98, 16% of the world’s corals died...

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Parrotfish: Harm or Help Corals?

parrotfish

Jacksonville University researchers have embarked on a study of critical importance to scientists rearing and out-planting coral on the Florida Keys reef.

Mote Marine Laboratory, the Coral Restoration Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have spent millions of dollars rearing and out-planting coral on the Keys reef for nearly a decade.

Jacksonville University marine science professor Dan McCarthy and two of his graduate students are examining whether coral reefs flourish when more parrotfish are around to eat the algae that battle for space on the reef with coral or whether certain species of parrotfish feeding on the live coral itself might also damage them, McCarthy said.

McCarthy will be working with Mote, which gave the professor ...

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Corals ‘Already Adapting to Warming’

Diver in coral

Some coral populations already have genetic variants necessary to tolerate warm ocean waters, and humans can help to spread these genes, a team of scientists from The University of Texas at Austin, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Oregon State University has found.

The discovery has implications for many reefs now threatened by global warming and shows for the first time that mixing and matching corals from different latitudes may boost reef survival. The findings are published this week in the journal Science.

The researchers crossed corals from naturally warmer areas of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia with corals from a cooler latitude nearly 300 miles to the south...

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The Coral Triangle ‘greatest repository of marine life’

coral triangle

When it comes to abundance of species, nowhere else comes close to the waters between the Pacific and Indian oceans. Nestled between the Pacific and Indian oceans is a marine region deemed to be the richest biologically, in the world. Home to three-quarters of the world’s coral species and over a third of its coral reef fish species, it is the underwater equivalent of the Amazon jungle.

It is half the size of the United States and bordered by six countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and East Timor – to form a triangular shape that gives it the name, Coral Triangle.

A new book, The Coral Triangle, by Ken Kassem and Eric Madeja, captures the rich life found above and beneath the water...

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Pacific Coral “Worst die-off in 20 years”

coral bleaching

Scientists warn extreme sea temperatures could cause a “historic” coral reef die-off around the world over the coming months, following a massive coral bleaching already underway in the North Pacific. Experts said the coral die-off could be the worst in nearly two decades. Reports of severe bleaching have been accumulating in the inbox of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch programme since July. A huge swathe of the Pacific has already been affected, including the Northern Marianas Islands, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Hawaii, Kiribati and Florida. Some areas have recorded serious bleaching for the first time.

“On a global scale it’s a major bleaching event...

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Bumpheads give insight into conservation

bumphead parrotfish

Life is tough if you’re a blundering, buck toothed, bumphead.

You’re far, far bigger than all the rest of the parrotfish in the Pacific. And weighing up to 45kg, you’re very popular at local birthdays and weddings. As the main course. So you console yourself with another chunk of crunchy coral reef! Tasty!

Ramming speed

These hapless hermaphrodites highlight a critical question in conservation. What do you do when an endangered species does things that are bad for the environment?

“They feed directly on these corals,” said Dr Douglas McCauley from the University of California in Santa Barbara who has studied and written about bumpheads extensively.

“They are big enough to ram into them, break off a piece and process this living rock...

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Race to save Cayman corals

Staghorn Coral

Local and international marine experts are joining forces in the ocean around Little Cayman on an important conservation project to try and understand and then save endangered local coral species. The plight of the now critically endangered staghorn coral, which was once one of the most abundant corals on Caribbean reefs, is at the top of the agenda. A mysterious die-off starting in the 1980s resulted in a loss of almost 90% of the population.

As a result both staghorn and elkhorn coral, in the genus Acropora, are listed as criticalely Endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species...

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