Coral starving and survival

alcolado at alcolado at
Mon Mar 11 09:22:31 EST 2002

You are right, James, refering to the alternative possibility that
turbidity could be "protecting" corals in more inshore crests, and
indeed I was considering that possibility in discussions with other
colleagues. I referred only to the possibility (not concluding) that
corals could (hypotheticaly, of course) be better fed, because I was
focussing only on the discussion about MacKenzie's starving
hypothesis, and trying to leave open that hipothesis (and promote
testing it experimentally) in place of  discarding it as some
colleagues seem to prefer. Thanks again, James.

Subject:                RE: Coral starving  and survival
Date sent:              Fri, 8 Mar 2002 13:20:45 -0600
From:                   "James Wiseman" <James.Wiseman at>
To:                     <alcolado at>, <coral-list at>

> An interesting post.
> There certainly can be many factors which differentiate these two "coral
> sets."  I think it would be premature to settle on the conclusion that the
> corals that were living in the "greenish and more turbid" survived because
> they were well fed.
> Couldn't we just as easily conclude that these corals survived BECAUSE
> they were living in more turbid water.  The turbid water corals were
> exposed to much lower light levels - a known factor in coral bleaching.
> Sincerely
> James Wiseman
> Houston TX
> -----Original Message-----
> From: alcolado at [mailto:alcolado at]
> Sent: Friday, March 08, 2002 12:16 PM
> To: coral-list at
> Cc: debimack at
> Subject: Coral starving and survival
> Dear coral-lister,
> I decided to add a little more firewood to discussion on Debbie
> McKenzie's interesting coral starving-survival hypohesis.
> During an AGRRA assessment along the south and east of  the
> Gulf of Batabano (SW Cuba; march 2001) the Cuban-International
> team observed a  gradient of improving condition in Acropora
> palmata (from a situation where practically all colonies were dead
> along the south) in the extent we approximate to the huge Zapata
> swamp (which is supposed to enhance plankton productivity and
> where water becomes greenish and more turbid). The two Acropora
>  palmata  crests closest to Zapata swamp looked practically
> healthy.
> Another Cuban-International AGRRA assessment in the
> Archipelago Jardines de la Reina (SE Cuba) showed that Acropora
> palmata in the windward crests of Cayo Caballones, exposed to
> the oligotrophic ocean were virtually dead, while a small Acropora
> palmata crest located leeward of the same key and exposed to the
>  most biological productive shelf of Cuba (varying from mesotrophic  to
> eutrophic along a cross gradient towards mainland) was alive  and really
> beautiful (mixed with dense thickets of live Acropora  prolifera).
> Probably well fed Acropora palmata crests survived the massive  mortality
> event(s) (cause unknown: coral bleaching, white band,  patchy necrosis?)
> that killed the crests exposed to less nutrified  and less productive
> oceanic waters.   If so, McKenzie's hypothesis, far from be discarded
> prematurely,  has to be tested because it could explain differences in the
> fate of  some coral reefs at small scale, and also explain some
> mismatches at larger scale when correlating coral bleaching with  sea
> surface temperature.  I fully agree that higher sea surface temperatures
> are the primary  cause of coral bleaching, but the fate of corals ususally
> is  conditioned by other complementary factors (cloudiness, sea  surface
> roughness, water transparency, etc.), very probably  included the degree
> of coral starvation. Cheers, Pedro M. Alcolado   ~~~~~~~ For directions on
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