Acropora spp. - Candidates for Endangered Species List

Bruce Carlson carlson at
Tue Feb 23 18:48:38 EST 1999

I would like to note that several public aquariums are raising Acropora
cervicornis in captivity with excellent results (the Florida Aquarium has
some in their coral exhibit and it has grown considerably in the past year).
I certainly hope that the means will be found to keep A. cervicornis and A.
palmata alive and well in their natural environments, but if it really
appears that they are heading towards extinction, it would probably be
worthwhile for a few public aquariums to maintain some "genetic diversity"
in aquariums, for possible reintroduction to the wild when conditions
improve.  Based on what we know about keeping Acropora spp. in aquariums,
they could probably be maintained almost indefinitely, especially if enough
institutions maintain them.

We have considered this here in Hawaii to include A. cervicornis among our
collection of Pacific acroporids, but we are very reluctant to bring in any
Caribbean species that might accidentally also bring in a pathogen (if
indeed that is what is causing the problem in the Caribbean).  If public
aquariums get involved, it will have to be those on the mainland U.S.

Just an option for consideration, but a viable option nonetheless.

Bruce Carlson
Waikiki Aquarium

-----Original Message-----
From: Sean Lyman <sjl3 at>
To: CORALations <corals at>
Cc: Coral-List <coral-list at>
Date: Tuesday, February 23, 1999 5:28 AM
Subject: Re: Acropora spp. - Candidates for Endangered Species List

>Good morning:
>The CORALations folks bring up a good point about classification of the
>entire coral reef system as endangered, but I think it's a mistake to so
>quickly dismiss listing of a single species.  I do not disagree with
>their points, but I do think that listing and protection of a single
>species can be useful.
>Doing what is necessary to protect a single species (or genus) or coral
>is going to have a positive effect on the entire system, something I've
>heard referred to as an "umbrella" of protection.  The Endangered Species
>Act in the US certainly has problems, but the listing and protection of
>charismatic megafauna has often had trickle-down effects on
>equally-endangered ecosystems in which they live.
>I think that we are a long way from the political power to implement an
>endangered communities act, and therefore should not be shy about using
>the tools at our disposal.  Declaring Acropora as endangered will
>increase awareness about the decline of the coral reef ecosystems, and
>steps taken to protect Acropora will most likely benefit at least other
>corals and at best the entire system.
>Sean J. Lyman
>Duke University Marine Laboratory          sjl3 at
>135 Duke Marine Lab Road                   sean.lyman at
>Beaufort, NC  28516  USA
>Phone:  (252) 504-7565
>Fax:    (252) 504-7648

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