[Coral-List] Black reefs

andrew ross andyroo_of72 at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 3 10:42:27 EDT 2011

Todd & List,
Interesting timing. We set some propagated Acropora to EcoReefs in Montego Bay, Jamaica, last month using steel wire that I suppose was a little too well "cured" (we age galvanized binding wire to eliminate problems with toxicity) and had rusted. Everything planted on the first day is fine, but maybe <10% of the fragments set on the second day came up with some sort of banding syndrome starting at the wire. I've never had this before at all. It seems the disease is either facilitated by the rusting iron or the disease is in the sand of the site and the wire picked it up when it was on the bottom, or both. Either way, we file it under "lessons learned" and won't use rusted nails or wire again. Rust does occur after the corals are set, particularly at the point of wire-tissue contact, but this has never been a problem. It might be interesting to ask Bowden-Kerby, Lirman and Hernandez if their nursery steel was new or rusty and if it made a difference. They
 are epoxy coating them these days, so far as I know. 

From: Todd Barber <reefball at reefball.com>
To: Forest Rohwer <frohwer at gmail.com>
Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Sent: Saturday, September 3, 2011 7:51 AM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Black reefs

At the Reef Ball Foundation, we've been talking about the negative effect of
iron on corals for years.  (One reason we don't allow iron in any of our
designed reef modules).

If anyone thinks it's not real...go to anybody that keeps a high end marine
"live" tank and throw in some rebar and wait a while you will see it all
turning black, algaes taking over, and a dramatic increase in aerobic
activity....which causes the sulfur odor from hydrogen sulphide.

We maintain the only responsible habitat enhancement for reefs use materials
that do not have direct chemical biological impacts either toxic OR a
nutrient (as in the case of the mineral Iron).


Todd R Barber
Chairman, Reef Ball Foundation
3305 Edwards Court
(609 PORTIA N ST, NOKOMIS, FL 34275 AFTER Aug. 5th)
Greenville, NC 27858
252-353-9094 (Direct/Office)
941-484-7482 (Home AFTER August 5th)
941-720-7549 (Cell & Goggle Voice)
toddbarber Skype

www,reefball.org (Reef Ball Foundation)
www.artificialreefs.org (Designed Artificial Reefs)
www.reefbeach.com (Reefs for Beach Erosion)
www.eternalreefs.com (Memorial Reefs)
www.reefball.com (Reef Ball Foundation)

On Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 8:10 PM, Forest Rohwer <frohwer at gmail.com> wrote:

> Black reefs are associated with shipwrecks or other debris in this
> region of the world. These sites are interesting both from a
> conservation and scientific point of view. As a conservation issue,
> they are amazingly destructive. Kingman, one of the jewels of the USA
> coral reefs, has lost >1 km of the lagoon in less than 3 years. An old
> wreck on Fanning atoll has killed about 10% of their reef.
> Visually, the black reefs are some of the eeriest places I've ever
> seen. The bottom is completely covered in different algae (including
> cyanobacterial mats), the water is filled with marine snow, and dark
> precipitate on the benthos (probably sulfur). We just published a
> paper in ISME where we have recreate the precipitate, cloudiness, and
> coral death in microcosms by combining rubble from the black reefs,
> with corals and an iron addition. Addition of antibiotics blocks the
> coral death, precipitate, and marine snow, suggesting a microbial
> role.
> The black reefs are probably caused by iron-enrichment from the wrecks
> and debris. We think black reefs are specific to non-emergent coral
> reefs, where iron is a limiting nutrient. Our current model is that
> iron stimulation of algae leads to increased microbial activity and
> coral death. In support of this, metagenomic analysis of the microbial
> community showed an enrichment of iron-related pathogenicity factors.
> If you are interested in the science, the please see the ISME journal
> (http://www.nature.com/ismej/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ismej2011114a.html
> ).
> If you are interested in conservation, then please help us petition
> the congress to support removal of the wrecks and debris. Please
> contact Emily Douce <Emily.Douce at marine-conservation.org> at the
> Marine Conservation Biology Institute.
> To see how messed up these sites are, please look at the National
> Geographic write up
> (
> http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/09/01/black-reefs-when-the-ship-hits-the-reef/
> ).
> Sorry for the long post,
> Forest Rohwer
> frohwer at gmail.com
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