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James M. Cervino cnidaria at
Thu Aug 27 02:12:35 EDT 1998

Dear Coral Listers:

Coral Bleaching was evident on reefs off the island of New Britain (PNG).
These reefs are within the Bismarck Sea. Reports from Madang were similar.
I collected data from this site 8 months after the 95 hot spot data read
similar temps that induced coral bleaching, 8 months after the event corals
were in FULL recovery. 2 differences:sponge disease & high presence of CLOD
& CLD. Corals from this region have always recovered following bleaching
events, if the temps return to the normal range we should see the same
recovery rate.

(Note: minimal anthropogenic stresses)

Leaving Kimbe Bay area we headed in a North East direction sea water temps.
below 10 meters were 31-31.5 °C. These temps were consistent with surface
temps above 10 meters as high as 32-33 °C. High mortality rates of corals
from Bleaching in this temp range. Bleaching affected 75% of Acropora sp.
Porites, and Platygyra sp. Other bleached corals were; Porites, Montipora
sp (plate like morph along deep walls) .,  Sinularia sp., Echinopora
pacificus, Montastrea valencienesi, Fungia fungites, Fungia, concinna,
Podabacia crustacea, Alveopora spongiosa, Gonopora lobata, and Heteractis
magnifica are in early to middle stages of bleaching. In most cases
expulsion is evident. Bleaching as far down as 165 feet.

Diseases and Syndromes in the NE direction:

Black Band Disease:  5 isolated cases (middle to late stage of infection).

White Band Disease: Sporadic; less than 10% (middle to late stages of

CLOD Coraline lethal orange disease: in the NE direction to the father's
outer reefs (2 days out on boat) 90% affected from this epizootic, can be
seen with the CLD Coraline lethal disease on the same encrusting substrate.
(samples collected). When I say 90% I mean anywhere there is encrusting
pink calcareous rock, there is CLOD & CLD.

Sponge Disease: 90% of all Xestospongia testudinaria, and in some cases
Jaspis sp. the same disease is seen. Photos of the disease were taken along
with samples. Disease starts, most of the time, from the base up. At times
the sponge will appear healthy but the bottom is decayed and streams of
mucus is seen in the infected area.  There is a drastic difference between
this and fish bites. Fish bites: the holes or bite marks on the sponge are
on the sides and tops, bites are never seen at the base. Texture of sponge
in the bite lesion is intact, and sturdy, no signs of rotted tissue or
mucus. Some sponges are at least 4ft. tall.
 Anthella (seafan shape) sponge, are mottled with dark spots, similar (in
appearance) to the DSDisease affecting Siderastrea siderea in the
Caribbean.  Rotted tissue and large holes surrounded with brown mucus.
Photos and samples were taken.  This was only seen close to the coast, not
out at the far away reefs and atolls.  Locals asked about the sponges, they
confirm this to be current.

Porites Syndrome: (samples were collected) the inner reefs closer to the
coast had the depressed lesions along with streaming mucus and pink
filimentous blotches shown.  Can this be a parasitic flatworm? (Peer
communication Tegan Churcher, Moorea field station).

Parrotfish white spot biting (PWSB) was seen affecting 80% of the Porites
sp. (boulder type). Locals claim the PWSB has increased in the past few

Acanthaster (crown of thorns): isolated (very few) cases.

Cyanobacteria (reds and bluegreens): quickly colonized on all exposed
substrates. Quite evident after the CLOD leaves the exposed limestone.
Thin layer of bluegreen, brown and red filamentous algae already covers 1/2
dead or fully dead Porites, Acropora and Platygyra and all other affected
corals. Pavona was seen smothering miles of Acroporids on a few  reef
sites. Cool water up-welling was said to trigger this outbreak of Pavona,
as the temps are now warming the Pavonas are dying, however, still
smothering high % of the corals at these sites. Recolonization from the
tips down can be seen in some cases.  WBD is seen at these sites.

RETURN to Kimbe Bay South West Direction:
Water temps ranged between 85 -86 F (29.5- 30°C).

Drastic difference: 10% Bleaching of Acroporid sp. (early stages) is
evident, Just 1 to 2 degrees C,  difference , and the corals seemed
healthy. One or two isolated cases of early bleaching is seen on other
species of corals.

BBD was seen close to shore, 4 cases on Acroporid sp.

WBD: was also seen at the far away reefs and atolls, however one or two
isolated cases were only seen.

Sponge disease: consistent with the other sites where temps were warm.

CLOD & CLD: rarely seen

PWSB: Father's out reefs the biting slows down, any suggestions?

A detailed report for the GCRA Web Site will be available:

James M. Cervino
Marine Biologist
Global Coral Reef Alliance
124-19 9th ave. College Point
New York, NY 11356
Phone/Fax (718) 539-8155

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