[Coral-List] 82 coral species listing

Esther Peters estherpeters at verizon.net
Wed Jul 11 21:28:17 EDT 2012


But are they really healthy?

In the 1980s (I forget exactly when), John Ogden (then at the West 
Indies Laboratory) supported my efforts to further investigate 
white-band disease as the Tague Bay, St. Croix, populations of /A. 
palmata/ and /A. cervicornis/ were dying. We submitted a proposal to 
Puerto Rico Sea Grant, to include funding a microbiologist along with my 
histopathology research, because we really needed a microbiologist 
involved. PR Sea Grant told us that they would not fund the requested 
amount, particularly the microbiologist, but we should "keep monitoring 
the situation." That is when I lost interest and due to life had "to get 
a real job."

I'm finally back in an academic position and able to continue my 
histopathology research on the acroporid tissue loss diseases, 
collaborating with others, including microbiologists and molecular 
biologists, as well as field ecologists and acroporid nursery managers 
(thank you all!). This is possible because there is funding since these 
species were listed as threatened. And I feel like we are finally making 
progress on identifying the pathogen(s). Not sure where it will lead to 
help these species recover, but it is the first step in understanding 
what ails them.

And based on research to date, an acroporid may appear to be healthy, 
but already be infected by a rickettsia-like organism. If anyone is 
sampling "healthy" /A. palmata/ or /A. cervicornis/ for other reasons, I 
would be interested in obtaining a small subsample for histopathological 
examination (contact me at epeters2 at gmu.edu).

Esther Peters
Department of Environmental Science & Policy
George Mason University

On 7/10/2012 5:22 PM, Ellen Prager wrote:
> Gene
> Interesting idea.
> Just got back from the British Virgin Islands.
> While overfishing is clearly an issue there, it was wonderful to see a
> surprising amount of A. palmata and A. cervicornis growing - clearly
> coming back and looking healthy for now!!!
> Some nice clusters of Diadema as well....
> Dr. Ellen Prager
> Earth2Ocean, Inc
> Author 2011 book, Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Ocean's Oddest
> Creatures and Why They Matter
> On Jul 10, 2012, at 3:21 PM, Gene Shinn wrote:
>> I am sitting on my boat in Marathon Florida Having just completed
>> photographing my two main serial photography sites. One at Carysfort
>> reef and one at Grecian rocks reef. The series is now 52 years in
>> length. You can view the first 50 years of this series at the USGS
>> website.
>> What does the series show? The advent of coral diseases in the late
>> 1970s and the demise of Acropora cervicornis that culminated in 1983
>> throughout the Caribbean. Decline due to bleaching and disease has
>> continued to the present.  At both study sites which were once lush
>> there is no longer any A. cervicornis. I found one small sickly
>> colony about the size of a grapefruit at Grecian Rocks. I have to ask
>> the question. Had Acropora been listed back in 1984 when it was
>> apparent to all that the species was in a spiraling decline would it
>> be flourishing today? The answer of course is  clearly no!  Staghorn
>> (A. cervicornis) does grow exceptionally well suspended on lines in
>> the water column. The question remains, will it grow on the bottom
>> where corals normally grow. It would be interesting to see if these
>> corals would grow if  transplanted to Carysfort and Grecian which
>> were once the premier sites for these species. Any volunteers?
>> Possibly the Center for Biodiversity should  fund such a study. Gene
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