corals tagged posts

Half a trillion corals in Pacific Ocean

Scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (Coral CoE at JCU) have assessed how many corals there are in the Pacific Ocean. In a world-first coral count, the team have estimated that there are roughly half a trillion corals in the Pacific Ocean alone – approximately the same number of trees in the Amazon, or birds in the world.

Until now, scientists didn’t know how many individual coral colonies there are in the world, and these findings have prompted them to reevaluate the risks of extinction.

“We need to know the abundance of a species to assess its risk of extinction,” said Dr Andreas Dietzel of Coral CoE at JCU. “However, there is very little data on most of Earth’s wild animal and plant species – not just corals...

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These Corals Are Literally Glowing To Survive

Tropical corals are famous for their captivating colors thanks to microscopic algae inhabitants. Glowing, on the other hand, is not standard fare for tropical reefs. A 2017 documentary Chasing Coral stumbled upon glowing coral reefs by accident.

The documentary follows a team of researchers and underwater photographers intent on getting footage of coral bleaching – when corals turn bright white due to stress. An underwater heatwave was expected at New Caledonia and Australia’s Lizard Island, with coral bleaching likely to follow. 

The Chasing Coral team installed high-tech cameras on the ocean floor in the hopes of capturing the event. When the cameras failed, the team opted to manually photograph the reefs daily.

Instead of capturing the corals bleaching, however, the team...

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Stony Corals ‘Preparing for a Mass Extinction’

Signs of stony coral tissue loss disease on symmetrical brain coral (Pseudodiploria strigosa)

Stony corals provide habitat for an eye-popping one-fourth of the ocean’s species. They serve as the centerpiece of a rich and diverse ecosystem, which is why their recent behavior has scientists concerned. New research shows that stony corals around the world are hunkering down into survival mode as they prepare for a mass extinction event, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports.

The international research team was composed of scientists from New York, California, Israel, England and Germany. They noticed a suite of behaviors that correspond to a survival response commensurate with how they behaved during the last mass extinction 66 million years ago, according to the new study.

“When we finally put all this together and saw the result, for me it was that moment when th...

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‘Super Corals’ Could Survive Warming Oceans

Turtle in coral reef

Ruth Gates, Director of the Hawai’i Institute of Biology, is working on breeding “super corals” that can withstand the climate change that oceans are already experiencing. Another group, in Australia, is creating “mutt” corals from different robust species to achieve the same result. What’s unique about these approaches to coral preservation is that it’s like the land-based genetic tinkering that’s been done for millennia with livestock and crops.

“We’ve never taken a proactive and interventional approach” to saving corals, Gates told Discovery News at the University of Hawai’i’s Coconut Island research facility on O’ahu.

Land-based agricultural breeding methods “have never been used in the oceans,” she said.

But the method Gates uses is a bit different...

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WA corals stunted by marine heat wave

Growth Measurement of coral

WA’s most renowned coral reefs, including Ningaloo Reef, are not as protected as scientists previously thought, with new research revealing warmer water temperatures have reduced coral growth and survival rates. This reduced growth means Western Australian corals may become more vulnerable, since the South West coast is a ‘hot spot’ for ocean warming, with temperatures rising faster than other parts of the Indian Ocean.

UWA PhD student Taryn Foster investigated the growth of three coral species— Acropora pulchraPocillopora damicornis and Goniastrea aspera —at Ningaloo Reef in the north, the Houtman Abrolhos Islands in the Mid West and Marmion Reef in the south near Perth.

Ms Foster measured coral growth from 2011–2013, a time when water temperatures were unusually high.


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