[Coral-List] Zoanthid (Paltythoa caribaeorum) overgrowth of corals

Szmant, Alina szmanta at uncw.edu
Mon Mar 10 10:51:42 EDT 2008

Hello Jan-Willem:

This is a common occurrence on Caribbean reefs and not new.  Some fishes
eat Palythoa (e.g. angel fishes,) and so does Diadema.  However, this
species is chemically defended so if it gets too big, fewer species are
likely to be able to prey on it.

Alina Szmant

Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Coral Reef Research Group
UNCW-Center for Marine Science 
5600 Marvin K. Moss Ln
Wilmington NC 28409
Tel: (910)962-2362 & Fax:  (910)962-2410
Cell:  (910)200-3913
email:  szmanta at uncw.edu
Web Page:  http://people.uncw.edu/szmanta
-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Jan-Willem
van Bochove
Sent: Friday, March 07, 2008 3:45 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Zoanthid (Paltythoa caribaeorum) overgrowth of



I've noticed that P. caribaeorum, a colonial zoanthid which forms
mats, is overtopping and smothering a large variety of scleractinian
in shallow reef environments in Tobago.

P. caribaeorum is an aggressive, fast growing and toxic zoanthid which
to stop at nothing and I have yet to see any significant predation on
species. In a small, sheltered bay where most of our observations were
it forms the dominant substrate with over 75% cover in the shallows
We have also seen it overtopping massive corals in deeper waters.

I was wondering if anyone has or knows of any recent research done on
zoanthid or has noticed its abundance elsewhere on such a scale. Other
a paper presented at the ICRS of 1981 in Manila by Suchanek and Green, I
have not come across any literature dealing with inter-specific
with corals. 


Images of the zoanthid overgrowing corals can be found on -




Any feedback is appreciated.






Reference - 

Suchanek T.H., and Green, D.J., 1981. Interspecific Competition Between
Palythoa Caribaeorum and Other Sessile Invertebrates on St.Croix Reefs,
Virgin Islands. Proceedings of the Fourth International Coral Reef
Symposium, Manila, Vol. 2.

Jan-Willem van Bochove MSc 
Chief Technical Advisor 

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