[Coral-List] Responding to Coral Bleaching
Berkshire Sweet Gold
bsgfarm at peoplepc.com
Thu Sep 17 11:33:02 EDT 2015
We agree with Austin and Doug. We work with communities in Vanuatu which is
currently experiencing a CoT infestation. Vanuatu has a remarkable network
of indigenous volunteer environmental resource monitors -400 strong –
overseen by the local non profit organization, Wan Smolbag. Island Reach
collaborates with this network to reach monitors in remote locations
throughout the 83 islands of the archipelago. Addressing the CoT outbreak
has been a major focus of our work over the past two years. We agree that
while the infestation can't be stopped, local reefs may be able to be
protected with dedicated effort. We work with communities on CoT culling
using simple, easily crafted hooks and flour bags for collection. Some
communities choose to bury the CoTs and others to burn them. There has been
some consideration of using them for compost as well. Island Reach also
employs simple, low cost injection guns; while these make collection
irrelevant, we think that community organizing with boats, as shown in the
following video, can be remarkably effective. There is no question that the
task is a big one, and requires commitment. Additionally, community
education and engagement are vital. As social scientists, we approach the
problem of conservation in close collaboration with community leaders, and
especially with the Vanua-tai, to assess a community's contexts, pressures,
and capacities as a way for everyone to identify the pathways that will
maximize community enthusiasm and motivation for conservation actions. An
engaged community is ultimately the only path to sustainable conservation.
Island Reach has a “trainer of trainers” film in final production that
explores this process. Let us know if you'd like to be notified when it's
Janis Steele, PhD
Brooks McCutchen, PhD
& Research Vessel Llyr, Vanuatu
From: Douglas Fenner
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2015 9:19 AM
To: Austin Bowden-Kerby
Cc: coral list
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Responding to Coral Bleaching
I think this is a GREAT idea!!
When there are millions of crown-of-thorns starfish, trying to control
them has not worked. However, in a situation like that you describe, there
are not so many. Maybe we were all scared off by the impossibility of
controlling millions of them. But when there are modest numbers, we really
can make a difference. In American Samoa, we had the beginnings of an
outbreak in the last few years. People got concerned, and started killing
them. National Parks is devoting significant effort to lead the way in
controlling them, and so far it is working brilliantly. Like cancer, if
you catch an outbreak early enough, you may be able to control it.
We're all super frustrated that all we can do is sit by and watch
bleaching kill coral. But this is something we can do, which can make a
Your observations remind me of the paper by Nancy Knowlton, Judy Lang
and Brian Keller on the Acropora in Jamaica after Hurricane Allen broke so
much coral, killing it, in 1980. The Acropora started to come back over
the next 3 years, but then the Coraliophila snails ate the smaller amount
remaining, just as you describe. After that, the reef there has stayed
stuck in a low-coral, high-algae phase for decades.
Killing crown-of-thorns is very practical, and every kill saves
coral. Crown-of-Thorns as a species will survive, you can't get the last
ones, but you can return them to close to their natural, very-low densities
that are present between outbreaks.
Further, the best empirical support for the cause of outbreaks is
nutrients that fuel phytoplankton that feeds starfish larvae, increasing
larval survival. If humans add to the nutrients, then part of the cause of
outbreaks may be human impacts. Removing the starfish is helping restore a
natural ecosystem. Plus save more of the temperature-tolerant corals that
survived, we need all of those we can get!
So, splendid idea!! I understand that injection kits are currently
the most efficient way to kill them. Managers rarely get to benefit the
reef directly, this is one of the few instances. In the long run, if an
area is impacted by human-produced nutrient runoff, then reducing that
nutrient runoff may reduce crown-of-thorns outbreak frequency and benefit
the reef that way. The ability of the coral community to recover from
bleaching mortality is resilience, so removing crown-of-thorns is
increasing reef resilience. Good thing to do.
Knowlton N, Lang JC, Keller BD (1990) Case study of natural population
collapse: post-hurricane predation on Jamaican staghorn corals.
Smithsonian Contributions in Marine Science, 31: 1-25
Birkeland C (1982) Terrestrial runoff as a cause of outbreaks of
planci*. Marine Biology 69: 175-185.
Birkeland, C. 1989. The Faustian traits of the crown-of-thorns starfish.
American Scientist 77: 154-163.
Brodie, J., Fabricius, K., De'ath, G., Okaji, K. 2005. Are increased
nutrient inputs responsible for more outbreaks of crown-of-thorns
starfish? An appraisal of the evidence. Marine Pollution Bulletin 51:
On Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 8:23 AM, Austin Bowden-Kerby <abowdenkerby at gmail.com
> Dear Friends,
> The reports of massive bleaching developing in both the Pacific and
> Caribbean are quite concerning to us all. Is there nothing we can do but
> stand by and passively watch? I propose an alternative approach.
> In Fiji, the massive bleaching event of 2000 killed 90% or more of the
> corals on some of our Southern Reefs. The few surviving unbleached corals
> provided hope that the reefs could adapt over time, however
> *Acanthaster *(COTS)
> subsequently killed most of these surviving corals on many of these reefs.
> The probable explanation is simple: before the bleaching, COTS were in a
> state of low relative abundance, but once most of the corals were gone,
> their relative abundance with respect to the corals became extremely high
> and thus deadly for the surviving bleaching resistant corals, particularly
> their favored prey *Acropora* and *Pocillopora*. In the Dominican
> Republic, we saw a similar post-bleaching scenario in 2005, but with
> *Coraliophila* snails and *Hermodice* fire worms as the predators.
> Might this be the ideal time to mobilize community groups to conduct major
> COTS removal programs in the Pacific- at least for reefs with high
> recreational value? The alternative is for concerned people to stand by
> and watch in horror, as their precious reefs die of causes that (for the
> most part) they are powerless to control. If COTS removal were done in a
> systematic manner, control reefs (without COTS removal) could be
> established for comparative purposes to get an indication of the relative
> effectiveness of COTS removal as a proactive climate change adaptation
> strategy for bleaching stressed reefs.
> A single COTS can kill a fist-sized coral every day, and that translates
> massive amounts of corals consumed. Every coral that survives this
> major bleaching event represents a genetic treasure
> vital for the future survival of coral reefs on the planet. Now is the
> time to act, to ensure that these corals survive the post-bleaching
> predator plagues that can be expected nearly everywhere.
> I recently submitted a proposal to USAID PACCAM that was turned down, to
> assist Kiribati with their bleaching emergency. The proposed strategy
> involved three components: 1. Protecting surviving (bleaching resistant)
> corals through a systematic coral predator removal program carried out on
> specific reef patches, 2. Collection of small fragments of surviving,
> non-bleached (heat-adapted) corals and establishment within coral
> secure from predation, and 3. At one year and beyond the nursery corals
> trimmed to produce second-generation, bleaching resistant corals for
> out-planting into selected reef patches.
> Where possible, the bleaching resistant corals are planted into no-take
> Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), to take advantage of the greater ecological
> balance and lower abundance of coral predators there. Communities should
> very much a part of this process, and should be engaged and mobilized. The
> result will be increased human resources involved in nurturing pockets of
> exceptional coral reef health that are composed of bleaching resistant
> corals that have a higher probability of surviving into the future.
> All the best,
> Austin Bowden-Kerby, PhD
> Corals for Conservation
> P.O. Box 649 Samabula
> Fiji Islands
> abowdenkerby at gmail.com
> Facebook: Corals for Conservation
> On Thu, Sep 17, 2015 at 6:14 AM, Austin Bowden-Kerby <
> abowdenkerby at gmail.com
> > wrote:
> > Sorry, Gmail won't let me change the subject heading.
> > Responding to Coral Bleaching
> > Dear Friends,
> > The reports of massive bleaching developing in both the Pacific and
> > Caribbean are quite concerning to us all. Is there nothing we can do
> > stand by and passively watch? I propose and alternative approach.
> > In Fiji, the massive bleaching event of 2000 killed 90% or more of the
> > corals on some of our Southern Reefs. The few surviving unbleached
> > corals
> > provided hope that the reefs could adapt over time, however
> > *Acanthaster *(COTS) subsequently killed most of these surviving
> > corals on many of these reefs. The probable explanation is simple:
> > the bleaching, COTS were in a state of low relative abundance, but once
> > most of the corals were gone, their relative abundance became extremely
> > high and thus deadly for the surviving bleaching resistant corals,
> > particularly their favored prey *Acropora* and *Pocillopora*. In the
> > Dominican Republic, we saw a similar post-bleaching scenario in 2005,
> > but
> > with *Coraliophila* snails and *Hermodice* fire worms as the predators.
> > Might this be the ideal time to mobilize community groups to conduct
> > COTS removal programs in the Pacific- at least for reefs with high
> > recreational value? The alternative is for concerned people to stand
> > by
> > and watch in horror, as their precious reefs die of causes that (for the
> > most part) they are powerless to control. If COTS removal were done in
> > systematic manner, control reefs (without COTS removal) could be
> > established for comparative purposes.
> > A single COTS can kill a fist-sized coral every day, and that translates
> > to massive amounts of corals consumed. Every coral that survives this
> > massive bleaching event represents a genetic treasure vital for the
> > survival of coral reefs on the planet. Now I the time to act, to ensure
> > that these corals survive the post-bleaching predator plagues that can
> > be
> > expected nearly everywhere.
> > I recently submitted a proposal to USAID PACCAM that was turned down, to
> > assist Kiribati with their bleaching emergency. The proposed strategy
> > involves three components: 1. Protecting surviving (bleaching
> > resistant)
> > corals through a systematic coral predator removal program carried out
> > on
> > specific reef patches, 2. Collection of small fragments of surviving,
> > non-bleached (heat-adapted) corals and establishment within coral
> > secure from predation, and 3. At one year and beyond the nursery corals
> > are trimmed to produce second-generation, bleaching resistant corals for
> > out-planting into selected reef patches. Where possible, the corals are
> > planted into no-take Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), to take advantage of
> > the greater ecological balance and lower abundance of coral predators
> > there. Communities should be very much a part of this process,
> > and should be engaged and mobilized. The result will be increased human
> > resources involved in nurturing pockets of exceptional coral reef
> > health,
> > composed of corals that are bleaching resistant and that have a higher
> > probability of surviving into the future.
> > All the best,
> > Austin
> > Austin Bowden-Kerby, PhD
> > Corals for Conservation
> > P.O. Box 649 Samabula
> > Fiji Islands
> > abowdenkerby at gmail.com
> > Facebook: Corals for Conservation
> >> Message: 3
> >> Date: Wed, 16 Sep 2015 06:10:56 -0400
> >> From: Shelly-Ann Cox <scox at cimh.edu.bb>
> >> Subject: [Coral-List] September Issue of the Caribbean Coral Reef
> >> Watch Bulletin Available!
> >> To: coralwatch at cimh.edu.bb
> >> Message-ID: <bc9ce0f518b1baf2af640c84d7756c25 at cimh.edu.bb>
> >> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8; format=flowed
> >> Dear Colleagues,
> >> We're pleased to announce the release of the latest issue of the Coral
> >> Reef Watch Bulletin.
> >> Notable observations include:
> >> - A strong El Ni?o has developed.
> >> - Alert level 1 issued for Central Bahamas and Northwest Cuba.
> >> Bleaching
> >> warnings issued for Belize, Turks and Caicos Islands and all the
> >> islands
> >> in the Greater and Lesser Antilles.
> >> - Reports of paling and disease outbreaks have begun in Florida.
> >> Partial
> >> bleaching signs observed in Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
> >> Read the full issue: http://bit.ly/CRW_Sept_Issue4
> >> Best wishes,
> >> Shelly-Ann
> >> --
> >> Shelly-Ann Cox
> >> Research Associate
> >> The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH)
> >> Address: Husbands, St. James, Barbados
> >> Tel: 1(246)425-1362/3
> >> Fax: 1(246)424-4733
> >> Skype ID: shellyanncox
> Austin Bowden-Kerby, PhD
> Corals for Conservation
> P.O. Box 4649 Samabula, Fiji Islands
> Sustainable Environmental Livelihoods Farm
> Km 20 Sigatoka Valley Road, Fiji Islands
> (679) 938-6437
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
PO Box 7390
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799 USA
phone 1 684 622-7084
Join the International Society for Reef Studies. Membership includes a
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subscriptions and developing countries. www.fit.edu/isrs/
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"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts."-
Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Energy policy: push renewables to spur carbon pricing. (the world
subsidizes fossil fuels a half Trillion dollars a year!)
Worst-case scenario: if we burn all remaining fossil fuels, Antarctica
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5 trillion tons of ice lost since 2002. (that's trillion with a "T".
Check the steady loss in the graphs.)
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