[Coral-List] intro & coral disease in RMI

Dean Jacobson atolldino at yahoo.com
Thu May 27 00:18:34 EDT 2004


I just jonied the list.  I am a resident of Majuro
atoll, the Marshall Islands, where I teach college
marine science and conduct reef surveys, and though I
have been a marine biologist since the 80’s, I am new
to coral reef research.  Upon discovering a high
incidence of a fatal “white plague” type disease among
tabulate Acropora spp. in my “backyard” (literally), I
initiated a detailed weekly monitoring/mapping
project.  Typically I find 8-15 actively diseased
colonies per 100 m fringing forereef (ocean side
only), but estimate that over 100 are killed each
year/100m.  No disease signs were found on some
neighboring atolls (i.e. Jaluit and Likiep) though
this syndrome does exit on next-door Arno atoll. 
After 7 months I have detailed time series photos of
over 40 colonies.  The spreading patterns are
intriguing, with some colonies apparently “putting up
a fight”, seeming to restrict disease progression to
the younger, peripheral tissue.  A white band
progresses at a rate of roughly 2 cm/day, and complete
mortality usually occurs between one and four months,
with very few apparent long term survivors.  (I am
sending pictures to Esther Peters for posting on her
coral disease website.)  I responded to a Hawaii
SeaGrant call for preproposals, submitting a strong
proposal with two colleagues (who would provide coral
histology and molecular characterization of the
pathogen, one it was isolated).  Alas, the preproposal
was declined with no explanation.   I also regret
missing the next ICRC, where my Majuro colleague,
Silvia Pinca, will be presenting.

Identification of this culprit(s) should be a high
priority, but I could use some guidance in locating a
source of funding.  Any help would be appreciated, as
well as ideas on research strategies and

Dean Jacobson     atolldino at yahoo.com

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