[Coral-List] Tunicate-killing coral spreading all acrossCaribbeanregion

Tupper, Mark (WorldFish) M.Tupper at CGIAR.ORG
Thu Jan 17 09:04:43 EST 2008

Dear Tom and Alina,

Angelfishes (Pomacanthidae) regularly feed on tunicates and ascidians,
as well as sponges that are unpalatable to most fishes. However, I'm not
sure how selective they are with regard to tunicate species and I have
no idea whether or not they feed on T. solidum.


Dr. Mark Tupper
Scientist - Coral Reefs
The WorldFish Center
PO Box 500 GPO, 10670 Penang, Malaysia
Tel (+6-04) 626-1606; Fax (+6-04) 626-5530

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Thomas
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 6:56 AM
To: Szmant, Alina
Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Tunicate-killing coral spreading all

Dear Alina,

This is a very interesting idea, but what could eat them, and why  
don't we see signs of them being chewed in the field?

In fact I've not seen any tunicate anywhere being chewed, even in  
Indonesia with the highest diversity of tunicates and fish in the  
world, where you would expect some predator would have evolved a way  
to exploit and abundant food resource. I hope someone can prove me  
wrong, because we need a lot more of such a predator.......

Tunicates seem to be very toxic, even the ones that are soft and seem  
to have no protection at all are not eaten. Some tunicates are known  
to have very high Vanadium contents, but nobody seems to know how  
general this is, or at least I don't.

Also, why would the worst infestations I've seen be in the Washington  
Slaagbai Park in Bonaire, which is about the most really strictly  
protected and local pollution free place in the entire Caribbean?

And since they are photosynthetic, they need full light exposure. You  
can clearly see they grow best on the top surfaces of corals so they  
don't make a good cryptic organism.

Best wishes,

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