Coloured Pigments and Coral Bleaching?

Prasanna Weerakkody firefish at
Wed May 29 09:25:06 EDT 2002

One thing that I found very interesting at the onset of the 1998 bleaching
monitoring in Sri Lanka was that some corals took on a brilliant ultramarine
blue for a couple of days before bleaching into blue. this was mostly
observed on colonies of Acropora formosa and couple of Montipora species.
I'm talking about whole colonies (2-3meters across) going deep blue. I sure
would like to have an explanation for this if there is one.

An additional note that there was a mild bleaching event that we were
observing on several south coast reefs in Sri Lanka during April. The corals
had become significantly paler overall, (60-70% of colonies) but none had
bleached into pure white except for development of completely bleached spots
ranging from 5-15 cm across on some colonies. I have not been able to
monitor for the last month but the indications were that things would be
easing up with the arrival of the Indian Ocean monsoon.


At 10:48 AM 28-05-02 +0100, you wrote:
>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
>For directions on subscribing and unsubscribing to coral-list or the
>digests, please see .
Prasanna Weerakkody
Nature Conservation Group
No.9, Balapokuna place,
Colombo 6.
Sri Lanka

E-mail: firefish at
Ph:     941-856041

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