[Coral-List] Diadema

Martin Moe martin_moe at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 15 10:17:28 EDT 2006

Hi Les,

I’m glad you brought up Tom Capo's contributions to
Diadema culture. I’m well aware of Tom pioneering
efforts in culturing Diadema. In fact, my hat has been
at his feet, and at the feet of those he worked with,
for quite some time.  Actually my culture work on
Diadema is basically an extension of Tom’s past
work, but more on a pilot aquaculture scale based on
Tom’s success in the laboratory.

My work is part of a group of projects developed by
Mote Marine Laboratories to investigate the
possibilities of Diadema restoration on Florida reefs
at a basic scientific level. Dr. Ken Leber, Director
of the Center for Fisheries Enhancement, Dr. Kevan
Main, Director of the Center for Aquaculture Research
and Development, and Dr. David Vaughan, Executive
Director of the Mote Tropical Research Laboratory and
Director of the Center for Coral Reef Research are all
principal scientists in charge of the various field
and laboratory projects. Dr. Aaron Adams and Erich
Bartles of the Mote Marine Laboratory, and Ken
Nedimyer and me, adjunct scientists with Mote are also
part of the team that is conducting these projects.
And Tom Capo is a paid consultant (OK, the “paid”
part is not much, he’s still working out of the
goodness of his heart) and he is helping me with the
initial Diadema culture project.  We have to work out
the basics of large scale culture of this urchin and
also develop the techniques to make them the equal of
the wild juveniles in terms of their ability to
survive on the reefs.  A big job, but we think we can
do it. It still isn’t easy to get funding for
Diadema research, our projects are all shoe string
funded at this point, but the great importance of the
presence of Diadema on the reefs, their ability in
most situations to shift the ecology from algae
dominance back to coral dominance, is becoming more
and more evident to the scientific community and to
managers of coral reef environments, and hopefully,
Diadema research will be more adequately funded in the

So for the sake of our coral reefs and all that they
mean to our economy and our hearts, we will keep on
trying, and view less then successful efforts as just
learning experiences and keep on trying. 


--- Les Kaufman <lesk at bu.edu> wrote:

> Assembled masses:
> Tom Capo at the RSMAS hatchery on Virginia Key is
> the guy, I believe  
> the first guy, to develop replicable methods to rear
> Diadema  
> antillarum.  I don't know when you got involved in
> this Martin,
> but the effort I know of previous to Tom was by Bob
> Carpenter who  
> managed to pull one individual through to
> juvenilehood at the old  
> West Indies
> Marine Lab on St. Croix many years ago.  At the time
> that was a  
> tremendous accomplishment.
> Tom embarked on Diadema husbandery in part to help
> Alina Szmant, Judy  
> Lang and I, who chipped in- again many years ago but
> much later than  
> Carpenter's enterprise-
> to  encourage him.  Largely out of the goodness of
> his heart, Tom  
> succeeded admirably and supplied experimental work
> by Alina and her  
> lab, by my then grad
> student Jamie Bechtel in my lab (Jamie is at
> Conservation  
> International now), and who knows who all else.   We
> had visions of  
> Diademaplums dancing in our heads, and
> at one point hoped to repopulate the Caribbean.  The
> problem was,  
> nobody seemed interested in paying for it.  They
> preferred to wait.   
> And wait.  And...  I guess to a limited
> extent they've been proved right, but waiting was no
> fun and the end  
> results are still not very satisfactory.
> So, with deference to all who've tried and failed
> and those with the gumption to try again
> Let's tip our hat to Tom, who nailed
> the spiny beast, our hope and bane.
> Les
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