[Coral-List] Culcita attack on reef

Todd Barber reefball at reefball.com
Tue Jan 31 09:45:27 EST 2006

Culcuta is known to feed on detritus and on sessile invertebrates, sometimes 
including hard corals.  However, it is not usually a threat to heathly 
corals.  Most likely, your transplanted colonies were unduly stressed or are 
facing different environmental factors in their new location.  Stressed 
corals are more likely to be eaten by Culcuta....and it is possible that 
they are dieing from the transplant and the Culcuta is eating the dead 
flesh...which might actually be a good thing to prevent colony wide 
infection from bacteria or RTN in the case of fast growing corals.

It has been our experiance in restoration work that it is better to save 
many individual propagated fragements from a colony rather than trying to 
move large colonies.  This way, coral genetics are better preserved (i.e. if 
one of the fragments is attacked or dies, there are more "clones" from the 
same colony to perserve the genetics....whereas if you move the whole colony 
and it dies, you lose the genetics of that colony).

If you can send us a report of your methods we would be happy to review them 
to make suggestions that could help to improve future restoration efforts. 
Thanks for sharing your experiances with the Coral List.


Todd Barber
Chairman Reef Ball Foundation, Inc.
3305 Edwards Court
Greenville, NC 27858
reefball at reefball.com


Direct: 252-353-9094
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----- Original Message ----- 
From: "sandrine job" <pulpito2000 at yahoo.fr>
To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 12:08 AM
Subject: [Coral-List] Culcita attack on reef

> Dear Coral List,
>  I have conducted a reef restoration project that involved the re-location 
> of hundreds of coral colonies into a safe environment, presently 3 
> different sites, in New Caledonia. On one of the site, we found a decent 
> number of cushion seastar Culcita prior to restoration (5 to 10/500m²), 
> but after restoration efforts their number increased dramatically! and 
> several transplanted colonies were found dead (probably smothered by the 
> sea star, or...?) on the restoration site. We tried to remove them once 
> and put them away from our site, 2 days later they doubled! We counted up 
> to 25 seastar on 500m²...
>  If anyone can help me understand what's going on between corals and 
> Culcita... If you heard about Culcita's stories, or know any papers 
> related to their ecology, feeding habits, or interaction in the reef 
> ecosystem, it would be appreciated.
>  Cheers,
>  Sandrine JOB
>  Environmental Company
>  New Caledonia
> Drew Harvell <cdh5 at cornell.edu> a écrit :
>  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
> regularly.
> 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
> Professor
> 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
> http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/harvell/harvell.html
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