Exotic coral cultured in the Caribbean

Jack Ward jadward at ibl.bm
Fri Jun 29 08:20:28 EDT 2001

At Bermuda we completely agree with the need to protect against introduction of exotics. As the Bermuda Aquarium runs largely on an open system, we display no exotics or even imported specimens of locally abundant species. Indeed, in Bermuda the importation of live marine specimens for aquaria is not permitted. It really is a shame when there is such great inconsistency in protection of shared waters from invasive species. What happens in the Caribbean is certainly of concern to us in Bermuda. None of us have forgotten the mass mortality of Diadema which appeared to originated somewhere near Panama and led to the loss of most of those urchins throughout the region and as far north as Bermuda. Also with regard to Bruce's comment about mechanical systems failing when noone is around, experience certainly supports that premise.
Jack Ward
Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Bruce Carlson 
  To: Paul Holthus ; coral-list-daily at coral.aoml.noaa.gov 
  Cc: dvogel at rossmed.edu.dm 
  Sent: Wednesday, June 27, 2001 9:36 PM
  Subject: Re: Exotic coral cultured in the Caribbean

  RE:  Releasing aquarium water from coral tanks directly to the ocean

  I'd like to add my 2-cents to this discussion. The concerns expressed by David Vogel are of real concern.  Last night we had a major spawning event at the Waikiki Aquarium in two of our outdoor South Pacific coral exhibits (mostly acroporids from Fiji collected in the 1980's). Due to concerns about the possible accidental introduction of larvae or pathogens (or even exotic zooxanthellae !) into our local waters, we have gone to great lengths to avoid having any water from these aquariums wind up in the ocean. Had we not done this, we could have easily "seeded" Waikiki with several exotic species of corals last night and very likely none of us would have been any wiser because the event happened after dark. Had we not had someone checking for fish eggs last night, the coral spawning event would have gone unnoticed.

  Ozone is not a 100% sure method of destroying pathogens, larvae, zooxs etc., nor is UV sterilization. Sooner or later these mechanical systems fail (usually at night when no one is around) and untreated water will be released. The only relatively inexpensive method to solve this problem would be to dig a large pit (away from the ocean!), fill it with gravel and direct the effluent into the pit/ground. There are some possible problems with this method too but at least it is not subject to mechanical failure.

  By the way, a major coral spawning episode in an aquarium is not a pretty sight when it's all over!

  Bruce Carlson
  Waikiki Aquarium

  At 08:22 AM 6/27/2001 -1000, Paul Holthus wrote:

    Dear David, 

    Your concerns about the culturing of non-Caribbean corals in Dominica are valid. It is important that culturing efforts take appropriate precautions re introduced species, parasites and pathogens. 

    You may be interested to learn of the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC), an international organization that brings together conservation organizations, the responsible members if the marine aquarium industry, government agencies, public aquariums and other stakeholders. This growing global network has over 2600 members in 60 countries and is developing "best practice" standards, a certification system, and a labeling program for sustainability in the collection, culture and commerce in marine aquarium organisms. 

    The certification system will be launched later this year. The initial version is focused on the wild caught marine ornamentals industry, as this accounts for 98% of the animals in the trade. We are working to develop the standards for culturing as quickly as possible to address the kinds of operations you have described. This will assist governments, conservation organizations and concerned individuals such as yourself to be able to ensure that these operations are not creating environmental impacts.

    More information on MAC certification is available at the MAC web site:  www.aquariumcouncil.org. If you would like to keep in touch with these developments, I would encourage you to visit the web site and submit the short form to subscribe to the MAC network.


    Paul Holthus  
    Executive Director  
    Marine Aquarium Council
    923 Nu'uanu Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii  USA  96817 
    Phone: (+1 808) 550-8217    Fax: (+1 808) 550-8317  
    Email: paul.holthus at aquariumcouncil.org  
    Website: www.aquariumcouncil.org

      Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 15:33:36 -0300 
      From: "Vogel, David" 
      Subject: Exotic coral cultured in the Caribbean 

      I am not a coral researcher. I address this list on the advice of a member 
      of the list. I am a physiologist living on the island of Dominica (not to be 
      confused for the Dominican Republic). I am concerned about a business that 
      has been established on Dominica and seek advice about the hazards it 
      presents, if any, and what actions might be appropriate. 

      Advanced Marine Technologies describes itself as culturing coral primarily 
      for use in restoration of damaged reefs and secondarily for sale to aquarium 
      owners. They are, at least, successfully maintaining numerous species of 
      coral obtained both from local reefs and from the South Pacific. The corals 
      obtained from the South Pacific, and their possible pathogens, are the 
      source of my concern. 

      The design of the facility is as follows: Seawater from Prince Rupert's Bay 
      is circulated through a large tank - possibly in the neighborhood of 50,000 
      liters. This tank contains mixed local corals. From this tank water is 
      circulated to, perhaps, 15 or 20 small tanks each of which contains an 
      single species of coral. Some of these species are from the South Pacific. 
      Water being returned to the large tank is treated with ultraviolet light. 
      There is no provision for removing particulates, which might be resistant to 
      UV treatment, from the return flow. The water in the tanks appeared clear, 
      and I was assured that the flow through the tanks is stopped when the tanks 
      are cleaned in order to prevent return of particulates. I have some doubts 
      about what happens when flow is restored. 

      Effluent from the large tank is returned to Prince Rupert's Bay. In 
      principle, the effluent is treated with ozone. However, on a recent day, the 
      ozone treatment was down and the plant was still returning water to the 

      With the exception of Haiti, Dominica is the poorest country in the Western 
      Hemisphere, and I do not wish to make myself unwelcome in this lovely, 
      friendly place by causing unwarranted trouble for even a small industry. 
      (The banana economy of these 70,000 people has been destroy by a U.S. 
      decision to force the British Commonwealth to stop subsidizing Dominican 
      bananas.) However, I feel obliged to inquire as to the risks Advanced Marine 
      Technologies presents, and for example, what international treaties might be 
      relevant to its operation. For some time prior to finding the ozone 
      treatment down, I have had concerns about the level of training of the 
      personnel who operate the plant, and about the ability of the government of 
      this small place to regulate such a facility. 

      David Vogel Home: 1-767-445-3598 

      Ross University Office: 1-767-445-5355 ext. 287 

      P.O. Box 266 FAX: 1-767-445-3457 

      Portsmouth E-mail: dvogel at rossmed.edu.dm 

      Commonwealth of Dominica 

    Paul Holthus  
    Executive Director, Marine Aquarium Council  

    923 Nu'uanu Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii  USA  96817 
    Phone: (+1 808) 550-8217    Fax: (+1 808) 550-8317  
    Email: paul.holthus at aquariumcouncil.org  
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