extensive bleaching of soft corals on near-shore reefs of the GBR

Wed Apr 1 20:09:00 EST 1998

Dear coral listers,

In response to Goetz Reinicke's question: Soft corals have experienced
extensive bleaching on the near-shore reefs of the central Great Barrier
Reef. Affected are almost all zooxanthellate orders and families (Briareum
is one exception), but the taxa show varying degree of susceptibility. Many
near-shore areas are 100% bleached within the upper 5 m, and ~ 20% bleaching
is still observed at 8 - 12 m depth. The rate of mortality is high even
among otherwise very persistant alcyonacean taxa (such as Sinularia). We are
about to conduct a 2-weeks AIMS survey to determine the extent of bleaching
on the central GBR, as well as species-specific and habitat-specific
susceptibility in soft corals to bleaching. Results should be available in a
month time.


Katharina Fabricius

Goetz Reinicke wrote:
Dear list members and bleaching observers,

Has anyone of you observed Bleaching in Alcyonacean (soft and gorgonian
corals) during the various recent events reported ? I haven't noticed
any mention in the reports on the list during last 2 years. The only
note in my hand is P. Glynn's (1993) report in Coral Reefs 12: 1-18,
showing a photograph of bleached Erythropodium caribaeorum from Florida.

However, many of the reef dwelling alcyonacean species are in fact
zooxanthellate, many soft corals in particular.

No Bleaching observed or reported to date from the Indo-Pacific ? Does
it mean that it doesn't occur ? Or does it reflect limited attention
payed to this group ?

Goetz Reinicke

Dr. Katharina Fabricius
Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS),
CRC for the Ecologically Sustainable Development of the Great Barrier Reef

Postal address: AIMS, PMB No 3, Townsville MC Qld 4810, Australia
Fax: (+ 61) 7 47725852, Phone: (+61) 7 47534412
Email: k.fabricius at email.aims.gov.au
Web: http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/~crcreef/4news/Exploring/feat18.html

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