[Coral-List] Kanton Atoll, Phoenix Islands
dustanp at cofc.edu
Thu Feb 10 09:51:14 EST 2005
Dear Coral Listers,
I know this is the second time this week I've asked for you input but:
The Planetary Coral Reef Foundation has discovered that a massive coral
mortality event occurred recently in the remote Phoenix Islands in the
Central Equatorial Pacific Ocean. All the reefs visited by the crew of
the RV Heraclitus showed signs of mortality but the lagoon of Kanton
Atoll suffered near 100% coral mortality between June 2002 and Nov 2004.
The reefs outside the lagoon faired a bit better, but not much with an
estimated 60% mortality. Curiously, the fish populations did not seem
to be as affected as the corals and a total of 153 species of fish were
identified along transects. As noted by Jokeil and Maragos in 1978,
there is little or no significant input from any sources of land based
pollution on Canton. The most plausible explanation for the excessive
loss of coral species and coverage is death due to excessive and
persistent water temperatures recorded in the Phoenix Islands by
NOAA/NESDIS from the months of August 2002 through March 2003.
The expedition log can be viewed at http://www.pcrf.org/explogphoenix.html
A summary of the data can be viewed at
We are interested in anyone who may have any information about the reefs
of Canton and the other islands. We are gathering data to piece together
the “before” for the gruesome “after” that PCRF has discovered.
Phil and Gaie
Phillip Dustan Ph.D.
Department of Biology
College of Charleston
Charleston SC 29424
(843) 953-8086 voice
(843) 953-5453 (Fax)
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