[Coral-List] coral bleaching: response to Goreau

Margie Atkinson margiea at gbrmpa.gov.au
Wed May 31 22:12:00 EDT 2006

   Dear Listers
   I  agree  with  the  concept  of  starting  a  dialogue  between coral
   researchers and coral collectors and aquarists - it is long overdue!
   I  work  in a management capacity with the commercial coral fishery on
   the  GBR  and  have seen that there is a wealth of knowledge available
   from   these   collectors   and  the  aquarium  industry  in  general.
   Unfortunately  there  seems  to  have been little in the way of shared
   forums  between  the  two  sectors.  Coral aquarists/enthusiasts often
   share  their  knowledge  through list serves, online discussion groups
   and  club  meetings  and  newsletters  -  rarely through the published
   (scientific)   literature.   Most   scientific   papers  dealing  with
   physiology and ecology are not user friendly for the lay person so are
   unlikely to have been discovered by aquarists.
   I  realise  also  that  in  many  parts  of the world commercial coral
   collection  has a bad reputation for causing significant environmental
   impact,  which may have contributed to the apparent lack of engagement
   between the two sectors.
   The  knowledge  base  for  keeping  corals  in  aquariums is expanding
   exponentially  and  many  species  that,  a few years ago, were deemed
   difficult  to  keep  are  now  relatively  easy - I'm sure some of the
   industry  observations  that have led to these developments could help
   ecologists  and physiologists refine their hypotheses and experimental
   designs to better understand the mechanisms involved. Also, people who
   keep  coral  in  domestic  aquaria tend to be extremely passionate and
   observant  about  the  occupants and recount extraordinary tales about
   what  the  corals  do under various scenarios - maybe consideration of
   these  "outliers"  may  assist  our  understanding  of the fundamental
   processes that still elude us!
   Another  area  where  there  is  considerable  scope  for intersection
   between  researchers  and  the  aquarium  industry  is  that  of field
   observations.  On the GBR, coral is collected via a small well-managed
   fishery that uses best practice approaches. Many collectors on the GBR
   have  been  in  the  industry  a  long time and have a strong sense of
   stewardship.   They  dive  regularly  (often  daily)  in  places  that
   scientists  generally  don't  go   -  not  just  on  the  reef  but in
   inter-reefal areas, so they have a good feel for broad coral community
   patterns  over  quite long timeframes as well as for the behaviour and
   distribution of a substantial number of coral species.
   Some  of  the  collectors  already  feed into the GBRMPA's Bleachwatch
   program   providing regular reports about the health of the reefs they
   collect from and the particular species that are bleaching and to what
   depth  etc.  It  has been my experience also that many of the favoured
   aquarium  corals  that  are  assumed  to  be  "rare"  on  coral reefs,
   especially   in   shallow   water,   are   sometimes   very   abundant
   inter-reefally  on  sediment flats - again, places that scientists may
   not  dive  very  often. This observation is supported by recent remote
   controlled  video  work  coming  out  of  the AIMS Seabed biodiversity
   I  see  that  Shashank  has  mentioned  Julian's  book  - another good
   reference for aquarium corals is:
   Borneman,  E.H.,  2001:  Aquarium  Corals:  Selection,  Husbandry  and
   Natural  History.  TFH  Publications,  New Jersey and Microcosm Books,
   Vermont pp 464.
   shashank Keshavmurthy wrote:

Dear Listers
It is interesting to see that finally the debate
on the coral energy aquisition has surfaced...

most of the resarch papers till now say that 
there is major contribution of Carbon form
zooxanthellae to corals....but, when in need the
corals can adapt to the carbon aquisition

We all need to get lots of information from
aquarists around the world....

If you will see the book written by "Julian
Spring" on the aquarium corals...it gives the
mode of nutrition as autotrophy and heterotrophy
to most of the corals described in his book....

we as researchers may just dont know what really
is happening out there....

here i agree totally with Tom....we still need to
get lots work done so as to understand the true
feeding habits of corals...

Recent paper by "Palardy et al, MEPS (2005) 300:
79-89, Effects of upwelling, depth, morphology
and polyp size on feeding in three species of
Panamanian corals"...looks at what corals are

Collaboration with aquarists is needed to really
understand about the energy aquisition in corals
in more detail...

more and more people are looking at zooxanthellae
since it is believed to be "the source of Carbon"
and "the factor for/of coral bleaching

question is how much is the symbiotic dependency?
there are many studies showing that the corals
can survive without the presence of
zooxanthellae...it may not be for long time and
may not be see in natural enviroment....but we do
see many sea anemones in coral reefs, bleached
and still surviving....

i think it is like, do corals want to feed on
zooplankton when they loose zooxanthellae?
does it take some time to switch between the
modes of nutrition acquisition?  
combination of stress factors may be disturbing
the switching between the modes

for instance, when kept in aquarium tank in
dark..it is only one stress and corals can
survive with the zooplankton being fed...that
means  they are able to switch between the

hmm...its pretty complex out there..and coral
physiology is more and more challenging...this is
my view...


"the role of infinitely small in nature is infinitely large"-Louis Pasteur     

Keshavmurthy Shashank
phD candidate
Kochi University, Graduate School of Kuroshio Science
Laboratory of Environmental Conservation
Otsu 200, Monobe, Nankoku-shi
783-8502, Kochi, Japan
alt. id: [1]shashank at cc.kochi-u.ac.jp
phone: 81 080 3925 3889

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Margie Atkinson
Project Manager
Fisheries Issues Group
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
PO Box 1379, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
Tel: (61) 07 4750 0735     Fax: (61) 07 4772 6093
Mob: 0438 387 303


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