[Coral-List] coral bleaching: response to Goreau

Margie Atkinson margiea at gbrmpa.gov.au
Thu Jun 1 00:09:12 EDT 2006

   Dear Tom
   I  take  your  point  that  there  are varying levels of expertise and
   awareness  in  this  arena.  I guess my main point originally was that
   there  is  a  substantial  body  of  knowledge out there amongst coral
   collectors  and aquarists that might be of value to science - and that
   as  far  as I can see it has not really been tapped into. I'm a strong
   supporter  of collaborative efforts and lateral thinking because there
   is generally value to be gained by all participants in the process - I
   think  there  would  be  interest  on  both  sides for this particular
   dialogue  to proceed.  I would be interested to see if other "listers"
   have any suggestions as to how this could be achieved.
   Best wishes
   Thomas Goreau wrote:

   Dear Margie,

   I'm  a  field  man  who has never kept a tank, but it seems to me that
   awareness of the need for lighting, circulation, and filtering systems
   is in advance of understanding the importance of feeding among all but
   the  most  skilled  hobbyists. As you saw Sprung did not seem aware of
   it.  Several hobbyists have told me that they are aware of the need to
   feed for best results, but many are not.

   Best wishes,


   On May 31, 2006, at 11:01 PM, Margie Atkinson wrote:

     Dear Tom
     I'm  no  expert  aquarist either, however these days the people (in
     Australia  at least) who keep corals tend to be those who have made
     the  effort  to  learn what is needed - generally starting with the
     easiest   species  and  with  experience  moving  on  to  the  more
     challenging  ones.  The  expense  alone  to set up a coral-focussed
     marine  aquarium  is  enough to deter most from venturing into this
     arena unless they are serious about doing it properly!
     Its  not  just about knowing whether a species needs feeding - that
     is  the  easy  bit  -  the  technology  available  to keep aquarium
     lighting  at  appropriate levels, along with specilised filtration,
     temperature   control,  control  of  water  movement  (and  habitat
     requirements  generally),  as well as knowledge about interspecific
     interactions  has  all  changed dramatically in the last decade and
     these  have  been  big  contributors  in  the  ability  to keep the
     "difficult"  species alive. Post harvest handling is also important
     and standards in this area have improved as well.
     Best wishes
     Thomas Goreau wrote:

     Dear Margie,

   I  am  no  aquariast,  but  I  think  that  one reason many corals are
   regarded  hard  to  keep alive in tanks is that so many people falsely
   think  they  don't need to be fed. The really successful coral growers
   all appear to recognize that feeding is crucial.

   Best wishes,


   Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
   Global Coral Reef Alliance
   37 Pleasant Street, Cambridge MA 02139
   [1]goreau at bestweb.net

   On May 31, 2006, at 10:12 PM, Margie Atkinson wrote:

     Dear Listers
     I  agree  with  the  concept  of  starting a dialogue between coral
     researchers  and  coral  collectors  and  aquarists  -  it  is long
     I  work  in a management capacity with the commercial coral fishery
     on  the  GBR  and  have  seen  that  there is a wealth of knowledge
     available  from  these  collectors  and  the  aquarium  industry in
     general.  Unfortunately  there seems to have been little in the way
     of    shared    forums    between    the    two    sectors.   Coral
     aquarists/enthusiasts  often  share  their  knowledge  through list
     serves,  online discussion groups and club meetings and newsletters
     -  rarely  through  the  published  (scientific)  literature.  Most
     scientific  papers dealing with physiology and ecology are not user
     friendly for the lay person so are unlikely to have been discovered
     by aquarists.
     I  realise  also  that  in many parts of the world commercial coral
     collection   has   a   bad   reputation   for  causing  significant
     environmental  impact,  which  may have contributed to the apparent
     lack of engagement between the two sectors.
     The  knowledge  base  for  keeping corals in aquariums is expanding
     exponentially  and  many species that, a few years ago, were deemed
     difficult  to  keep  are now relatively easy - I'm sure some of the
     industry  observations  that  have  led to these developments could
     help  ecologists  and  physiologists  refine  their  hypotheses and
     experimental  designs to better understand the mechanisms involved.
     Also,  people  who  keep  coral  in  domestic  aquaria  tend  to be
     extremely  passionate and observant about the occupants and recount
     extraordinary   tales  about  what  the  corals  do  under  various
     scenarios  - maybe consideration of these "outliers" may assist our
     understanding of the fundamental processes that still elude us!
     Another  area  where  there  is considerable scope for intersection
     between  researchers  and  the  aquarium  industry is that of field
     observations.   On   the  GBR,  coral  is  collected  via  a  small
     well-managed  fishery  that  uses  best  practice  approaches. Many
     collectors  on  the  GBR  have been in the industry a long time and
     have  a  strong  sense  of  stewardship. They dive regularly (often
     daily)  in places that scientists generally don't go  - not just on
     the  reef  but  in inter-reefal areas, so they have a good feel for
     broad  coral  community patterns over quite long timeframes as well
     as  for  the  behaviour and distribution of a substantial number of
     coral species.
     Some  of  the collectors already feed into the GBRMPA's Bleachwatch
     program   providing  regular  reports about the health of the reefs
     they collect from and the particular species that are bleaching and
     to  what depth etc. It has been my experience also that many of the
     favoured  aquarium  corals  that  are assumed to be "rare" on coral
     reefs,  especially  in  shallow  water, are sometimes very abundant
     inter-reefally  on  sediment  flats - again, places that scientists
     may  not  dive  very often. This observation is supported by recent
     remote  controlled  video  work  coming  out  of  the  AIMS  Seabed
     biodiversity project.
     I  see  that  Shashank  has  mentioned Julian's book - another good
     reference for aquarium corals is:
     Borneman,  E.H.,  2001:  Aquarium  Corals: Selection, Husbandry and
     Natural  History. TFH Publications, New Jersey and Microcosm Books,
     Vermont pp 464.
     shashank Keshavmurthy wrote:

Dear Listers
It is interesting to see that finally the debate
on the coral energy aquisition has surfaced...

most of the resarch papers till now say that
there is major contribution of Carbon form
zooxanthellae to corals....but, when in need the
corals can adapt to the carbon aquisition

We all need to get lots of information from
aquarists around the world....

If you will see the book written by "Julian
Spring" on the aquarium corals...it gives the
mode of nutrition as autotrophy and heterotrophy
to most of the corals described in his book....

we as researchers may just dont know what really
is happening out there....

here i agree totally with Tom....we still need to
get lots work done so as to understand the true
feeding habits of corals...

Recent paper by "Palardy et al, MEPS (2005) 300:
79-89, Effects of upwelling, depth, morphology
and polyp size on feeding in three species of
Panamanian corals"...looks at what corals are

Collaboration with aquarists is needed to really
understand about the energy aquisition in corals
in more detail...

more and more people are looking at zooxanthellae
since it is believed to be "the source of Carbon"
and "the factor for/of coral bleaching

question is how much is the symbiotic dependency?
there are many studies showing that the corals
can survive without the presence of
zooxanthellae...it may not be for long time and
may not be see in natural enviroment....but we do
see many sea anemones in coral reefs, bleached
and still surviving....

i think it is like, do corals want to feed on
zooplankton when they loose zooxanthellae?
does it take some time to switch between the
modes of nutrition acquisition?
combination of stress factors may be disturbing
the switching between the modes

for instance, when kept in aquarium tank in
dark..it is only one stress and corals can
survive with the zooplankton being fed...that
means  they are able to switch between the

hmm...its pretty complex out there..and coral
physiology is more and more challenging...this is
my view...


"the role of infinitely small in nature is infinitely large"-Louis Pasteur

Keshavmurthy Shashank
phD candidate
Kochi University, Graduate School of Kuroshio Science
Laboratory of Environmental Conservation
Otsu 200, Monobe, Nankoku-shi
783-8502, Kochi, Japan
alt. id: [3]shashank at cc.kochi-u.ac.jp
phone: 81 080 3925 3889

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Margie Atkinson
Project Manager
Fisheries Issues Group
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
PO Box 1379, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
Tel: (61) 07 4750 0735     Fax: (61) 07 4772 6093
Mob: 0438 387 303

Margie Atkinson
Project Manager
Fisheries Issues Group
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
PO Box 1379, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
Tel: (61) 07 4750 0735     Fax: (61) 07 4772 6093
Mob: 0438 387 303

   Thomas J. Goreau, PhD


   Global Coral Reef Alliance

   37 Pleasant Street, Cambridge MA 02139


   [7]goreau at bestweb.net


Margie Atkinson
Project Manager
Fisheries Issues Group
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
PO Box 1379, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
Tel: (61) 07 4750 0735     Fax: (61) 07 4772 6093
Mob: 0438 387 303


   1. mailto:goreau at bestweb.net
   2. http://www.globalcoral.org/
   3. mailto:shashank at cc.kochi-u.ac.jp
   4. http://mail.yahoo.com/
   5. mailto:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   6. http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
   7. mailto:goreau at bestweb.net
   8. http://www.globalcoral.org/

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