[Coral-List] Bleaching causes mass mortality of Millepora spp. in Puerto Rico

Hernandez Edwin coral_giac at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 15 23:22:43 EDT 2005

Dear listers:

Hola! Just another update from current bleaching
impact rapid assessment over the eastern coast of
Puerto Rico.

Dives were conducted today at Palominos Island (down
to 25 m), Cayo Diablo (down to 8 m), and at Cayo Largo
(down to 8 m). Mass bleaching has impacted so far over
20 species through the area. Additional video sampling
and extensive photographic sampling was carried out

The most striking findings:

1. Bleaching has impacted more than 90% of Montastraea
annularis complex species and agaricids at each site.

2. Several black band disease infected colonies of M.
annularis were observed totally bleached but still
with active infections.

3. At Cayo Largo, 100% of the Acropora cervicornis
population was bleached (still living).

4. At Cayo Largo we observed the first bleached colony
of Acropora palmata in the region.

5. At Cayo Largo nearly 100% of the fire corals
Millepora complanata and M. alcicornis have bleached,
particularly in the very shallow Millepora zones (<1

6. More than 90% of the shallow Millepora colonies
died immediately after bleaching. Many colonies are
still showing signs of tissue necrosis.

7. Similar to what happened during the 1998 bleaching
event in PR, cleaning gobies (formerly Gobiosoma spp.)
have nearly disappeared from totally bleached coral
heads. Sorry, no quantitative data on this, but
cleaning gobies behavior has apparently changed. Has
anybody seen something like that before?

We will be out in the field tomorrow again on
southwestern PR and will provide later a brief summary
of our observations.



Edwin A. Hernández-Delgado, Ph.D.
Affiliate Researcher

University of Puerto Rico
Department of Biology
Coral Reef Research Group
P.O. Box 23360
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00931-3360
Tel (787) 764-0000, x-4855
Fax (787) 764-2610
e-mail: coral_giac at yahoo.com

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