Porites Pink Blotch Disease

Cindy Hunter cindyh at hawaii.edu
Sat May 8 21:42:26 EDT 1999

I'm here! I just turned email off for a few hours to go out for a snorkle
with Bob Steneck and Jen Smith--looking at war zones betweens Hawaiian
corals and algae.

I am in complete agreement with Les--"pinking" is a general response to
stress in Porites tissues. The source of the pigment(s) is an open
question. I do know that such tissus exhibit an in vivo spectral
absorbance peak at 580 nm--similar to pocilloporin?

What's interesting is why some "bad hair days" persist (turfs or
blue-greens recruit to lesions and hang in there) while others are fairly
benign (coral tissue recovers). It makes me wonder if bacteria or algal
components of the endolithic community (remember the discussion of pink
skeletal bands that some attributed to Bob Buddemeier's alizarin staining
of Pacific corals?) may move in, move up, or become more apparent in some
cases as coral tissues succumb. Les, I think you first brought this
possibility to my attention--areas of dying coral tissue can often look
green, as well as pink.

I also strongly agree with Les, Eric, and Esther--"disease" is a word that
is just beginning to be understood for corals. Let's talk about it.


On Sat, 8 May 1999, Les Kaufman wrote:

> James and others:  my experience with Porites compressa, Porites lobata,
> and Porites evermanni (or so I took it to be) is that at least these
> species, and probably many other Porites, exhibit a pinkish or purplish
> discoloration in response to virtually any persistent insult- be they
> parasites, necrosis near fish bite marks, margins of advance by competing
> assemblages of endolith/algal turf (unsure who the main culprit is), or
> even the edges of damselfish gardens.  I think it is misleading to refer
> to this collection of processes as a single disease.  Even if there is a
> disease that produces a distinct, recognizable manifestation of the pink
> discoloration, neophytes will have a devil of a time distinguishing it
> from all the other pinkish blotches these corals produce.  Pink in
> at least some Indo-Pacific Porites means "bad hair day."  Cindy Hunter,
> help us!	  
> Les Kaufman
> Boston University Marine Program
> lesk at bio.bu.edu
> 617-353-5560 office
> 617-353-6965 lab
> 617-353-6340 fax

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