[Coral-List] Coral disease? Which one?

Jeffrey Low cat64fish at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 23 02:44:53 EDT 2006

Thanks Ross, Ken, Melissa, Julian, James, Ernesto and Francesca for your prompt responses:
  It seems I know even less about coral disease than I thought. Not that I knew much anyway.
  The general consensus seems to be that it is not a disease, but possibly a secondary colonisation by microbes - Beggiatoa was suggested, as it forms the white film seen in the images.
  A dying sponge or something sitting on the coral could have been the original cause of death of the tissue. I'd rule out COTS because we don't have them.
  I will try to schedule a visit next week and find the corals again, but currents at the site typically follow a biweekly cycle, so it may be not safe to dive there again until the week after. Maybe I will look at other sites in the interim, as suggested.
  Just some replies to other observations:
  Melissa Keyes: I 'googled' Pulau Satumu and found it to be near Singapore.  I personally would not dive there.  But the coral does look diverse, and very ill.
  Jeff: LOL ... I dive in those conditions all the time, so much so I sometimes don't know what to do when I dive in clear waters! But yes, the diversity is quite high (about 200 species of hard corals at last count).
  Melissa Keyes: This series of photos shows a disease that does not resemble any that I have observed here in the Caribbean ... it looks as if it progresses at a very fast rate, much faster, and differently, from the White Plagues, seeing how there is apparent degradation of the structure of the calcarious structure of the coral.
  Ernesto Weil: White syndromes usually advance quickly leaving clear white skeleton behind and do not show the bacterial mats. The silty condition and heavy rains might be favoring the development of the bacterial mat quickly. 
  Jeff: Degradation can be very fast here in the tropics ... there is almost no way to identify "recently dead corals" based on the "whiteness" of its skeleton, simply because algal growth over the skeleton is quite rapid (how fast, I cannot say for sure, but a rough guess would be that within a week, it would be covered with algae and silt).
  Francesca: Any possibility that you have collected a fragment of the colony?
  Jeff: I'd have no idea what to do with the fragment even if I had collected it, so I did not, but ... as Eric suggested below:
  Eric Borneman: .... contagion in terms of virulence would not be possible without experimentation...and DO NOT do any in the field .... if possible, send samples to the International Registry of Coral Pathology (contact them first for interest, availability of resources and proper fixation, storage and shipping protocols.)
  Jeff: I do not intend to experiment in the field (in fact I do not have facilities to do much, except observe, at this point). But I wanted a quick response so that I would know what to do next, like check with the International Registry of Coral Pathology.
Cheers, Jeff
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