Coloured Pigments and Coral Bleaching?

Rupert Ormond rupert.ormond at
Tue May 28 05:48:28 EDT 2002

Dear Coral Listers

I would be grateful if any of the coral physiologists involved in bleaching
work could offer any details on a question that's been put to me a couple
of times.

The colourful pigments (blues, pinks etc.) that are charateristic of many
shallow water corals (Acropora etc.) are, as I understand it, located in
the coral tissue itself.  Whereas the pigments present in the zooxanthellae
are more or less brown in colour.  If coral bleaching (due to elevated
SSTs) is principally the result of expulsion or loss of zooxanthellae, then
why do the corals go completely white.  i.e. what happens to the more
colourful coral pigments? Are they damaged as well but independently by
temperature induced failure of protective systems?


Rupert Ormond

Dr. Rupert Ormond
University Marine Biological Station Millport,
Isle of Cumbrae,
UK  KA28 0EG

email: rupert.ormond at
tel: (44)-01475-530581
fax: (44)-01475-530601

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