[Coral-List] new new video and COTS damage

Dean Jacobson atolldino at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 9 00:16:15 EDT 2012

My Majuro coral mining video was truncated by the freeware, but the full version is now available:
Part 2 will be available soon, showing my favorite fish video, ram-feeding mackerels (at the picnic area reef that was saved).
Some unrelated news: I visited a reef at the north tip of Arno atoll yesterday (I had been there in 2005 or so, when it was pristine, it was almost impossible to find a single dead colony from 140 feet to the shallows).  
Almost all the coral is now dead, even the slope crowded with Porites colonies (and a few big Lobophyllia) at 80 feet.  Almost all the Isopora, Acropora, etc. is dead, just some surviving Montipora and partially (80%) eaten Turbinaria at 30 feet.  No feeding on Heliopora, at all.  Perhaps the shallows are in better shape.  There are still a few small COTS around (fresh feeding scars).  
This mortality is clearly the result of a massive COTS outbreak, sometime in the past few years.  A giant Leptoria colony was 80-90% eaten, large Hydnopora was eaten from the base, top of colony was untouched.  Due to the lack of population and pollution here, it is possible the outbreak was due either to spillover from the massive outbreak on neighboring Majuro atoll that peaked from 2003-2007 (persisting much later in some spots), or due to a more widespread oceanographic driver (upwelling? temp?).  Some km to the south, at Ulien Pt, the reef was free of mortality, but even further to the south, at Arno Arno, an outbreak is now causing substantial mortality, in progress for several years (as noted earlier this year).  No similar recent COTS outbreaks have been reported from any other RMI atoll, except for Ebon lagoon.
The dead coral up north is virtually free of algae, other than turf.  Very clean water!
Dean Jacobson

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