[Coral-List] Toxic coral and a dog

Drew Harvell cdh5 at cornell.edu
Mon Jan 30 19:43:40 EST 2006

Dear Annie and Caroline:  It is Biareum asbestinum, as Julian 
identified. We worked on the chemistry with Bill Fenical for many 
years, and it is not surprising that it is toxic enough to kill a 
dog.  Its more surprising that the dog ate enough of what must have 
tasted very horrible to get a lethal dose. This species has high 
levels of chlorinated diterpenes, in addition to unidentified small 
proteins that might be in it.  This species also has compounds in it 
that can trigger contact dermatitus and even respiratory issues for 
people who work with chemical extracts and dried samples of it 

Below are some of our papers with briareum; the most recent of these 
are available on my website.

Regards, Drew

  Harvell, C. D., W. Fenical, V. Roussis, J. L. Ruesink, C. C. Griggs, 
C. H. Greene. 1993. Local and geographic variation in the defensive 
chemistry of a West Indian gorgonian coral (Briareum asbestinum). 
Marine Ecology Progress Series 93:165-173.

Harvell C. D., J. West, and C. C. Griggs. 1997.  Chemical defense of 
embryos and larvae of a West Indian gorgonian coral,  Briareum 
asbestinum. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development 30:239-246.

Jensen, P. R., C. D. Harvell, K. Wirtz, and W. Fenical. 1996. The 
incidence of anti-microbial activity among Caribbean gorgonians. 
Marine Biology 125:411-420.

Kim, K., P. D. Kim, A. P. Alker and C. D. Harvell. 2000. Antifungal 
properties of gorgonian corals. Marine Biology 137: 393-401

>Hi Coral listers,
>Can anyone help determine the species of coral and whether it is 
>toxic please? There is a link to the photo here: 
>Annie J. Yau
>Bren School of Environmental Science and Management University of 
>California, Santa Barbara CA 93106-5131
>Office: Bren Hall 1306, (805) 893-5054
>Email: ayau at bren.ucsb.edu
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Caroline Donaldson [mailto:cwd at apcc.aspca.org]
>This is a picture of a coral a dog ate that developed progressive 
>neurologic signs about 2 hours after the ingestion.  the dog  was 
>ultimately euthanized because the he was not breathing on his own 
>and the owners could not afford emergency care.  I found some 
>literature about corals that can have neurotoxins specifically 
>lophotoxins, I was wondering if it is possible that this could be 
>one of those corals.
>This particular coral was found on the beach in Jamaica and 
>apparently is a leather consistency.  Any ideas about what it might 
>be would be helpful and if it is possible it could be a species that 
>could be toxic as well as any information about coral toxins that 
>you may have would be useful.  Please feel free to forward the 
>picture on if you know someone who might also be of assistance.
>Caroline W. Donaldson, DVM
>ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
>An Allied Agency of the University of Illinois 
>http://www.apcc.aspca.org 1-888-4-ANI-HELP
>Coral-List mailing list
>Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

Drew Harvell
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
E- 321 Corson Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

VOICE:  607-254-4274   FAX: 607-255-8088  email:cdh5 at cornell.edu 

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