[Coral-List] Responding to Coral Bleaching
abowdenkerby at gmail.com
Wed Sep 23 11:48:00 EDT 2015
I have always stayed away from poisons in favor of removal or (when not too
abundant) crushing the central disc. I always felt uncomfortable about
introducing poisons to the reef system when various animals would be
consuming the dead COTS, but now the COTS become non-toxic pickles!
On Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 3:02 AM, Andrew Ross <ross.andrew at mac.com> wrote:
> Francesca and List,
> To clarify a bit: my earlier note was simply spitballing
> options/incentives to decentralize a “cull” by making it an ongoing
> harvest, a self-valued element of the fishery.
> Chicken and pig-food on an atoll seems a pretty good incentive, and also a
> reasonable starting point for further conversation.
> As a dried and therefore somewhat storable thing, such harvest could/would
> occur primarily during a bloom when catch-per-effort is adequate(?).
> I do also appreciate the high-emotion of the word “trophy”. It was a poor
> choice, certainly, and particularly with poor Cecil so fresh in the memory.
> Unfortunately, that repugnant concept still efficiently captures a sport
> element that may be (distastefully) necessary to rapidly muster a
> self-supporting labour pool (tourists).
> The vinegar direction may offer something a little different and maybe
> equally attractive.
> > On Sep 22, 2015, at 9:39 AM, Bill Allison <allison.billiam at gmail.com>
> > re. COTS outbreaks, damsels, and the wars on COTS
> > Hi Tim,
> > I did this on a small scale on a number of reefs in the Maldives.
> > Stegastes nigricans definitely successfully defends against COTS there
> > elsewhere as per the literature).
> > In the early 90's the only patches of live Acropora spp. after COTS
> > outbreaks on some reefs of North Male Atoll were inhabited by S.
> > In lagoons these were patches of branching acropora surrounded by dead
> > acropora. On rubble beds, and on jettys and breakwalls made of mined
> > corals, I found live acropora of various forms only within areas
> > and defended by S. nigricans.
> > I observed S. nigricans attacking COTS and driving them away and when I
> > placed COTS within territories they were driven away.
> > During a subsequent outbreak a few years later with acropora and
> > pocillopora very scarce, colonies at the periphery of S. nigricans
> > territories had only branches distal to the territory centre killed.
> > Areas defended by S. nigricans may function as refuges seeding subsequent
> > recovery, but encouraging S. nigricans to control COTS* would, like many
> > proposed actions, merely be another band-aid or worse, (like the war
> > fill in the blank), diverting attention and resources from discovering
> > addressing fundamental causes of a complex problem.
> > In the case of COTS, eutrophication and COTS predator removal are likely
> > two contributing factors.
> > Cheers,
> > Bill
> > *I know you are not proposing this Tim but there are plenty of wannabe
> > warriors out there.
> > On Mon, Sep 21, 2015 at 8:56 AM, Tim <tim at atolleditions.com.au> wrote:
> >> Hi Austin,
> >> There are around four Stegastes damselfish in the Maldives, of which two
> >> species Stegastes nigricans and Stegastes lividus – both widespread
> >> Indo-Pacific species – appear to be the most common.
> >> I'm not sure how many species occur elsewhere, or their abundance, but
> >> I had to choose representative species to monitor across the entire
> >> Indo-Pacific, it would be these two. Would you agree?
> >> What about the other farmer damsels, the Plectroglyphidodon?
> >> Plectroglyphidodon lacrymatus and Plectroglyphidodon dickii are two of
> >> five common Maldives, widespread Indo-Pacific species. From your
> >> experience, are these as equally aggressive in attacking COTS?
> >> Is there any benefit to be gained by widespread Indo-Pacific monitoring
> >> representative fish species, such as the Stegastes, as a comparative
> >> study before, during and after outbreaks?
> >> I ask this because if controlling COTS outbreaks means involving the
> >> community for assistance, involvement can be made more enticing by
> >> providing interesting and stimulating engagement in monitoring
> >> I also adhere to the KISS principle, Keep it Simple Sid (as well as Keep
> >> it Sexy Sid!)
> >> Regards
> >> Tim Godfrey
> >> Atoll Editions
> >> www.atolleditions.com.au
> >> www.fishesofthemaldives.com
> >> that are absolutely essential in the post-bleaching survival of
> >>> corals
> >> On 19 Sep 2015, at 18:12, Austin Bowden-Kerby wrote:
> >>> Bula Dennis and others on the list,
> >>> Interesting observations, many of which have good merit. However, I
> >>> that a paralysis of will can sometimes be the result of too much side
> >>> thinking and doubting. This massive bleaching will come and then it
> >>> go very quickly, and it may not return for five years or a decade or
> >> so
> >>> study it now or perhaps lose the chance- none of us are getting any
> >>> younger!
> >>> The point I have tried to make is that we have an urgent situation at
> >> hand
> >>> that threatens coral reefs NOW. If this were a climate change event
> >>> occurring ten thousand years ago when human impacts were insignificant,
> >>> coral reefs would be ecologically balanced and certainly better capable
> >> of
> >>> adapting. But from what I have experienced, every reef is more or less
> >>> under some sort of human-induced stress that makes adaptation to
> >>> change much more difficult. I am proposing a completely new strategy
> >> that
> >>> gives people something to actually do about bleaching over the short
> >> term.
> >>> I have seen that it can make a very big difference.
> >>> Most of the adaptive potential of coral species to beaching rests with
> >> the
> >>> bleaching resistant coral colonies, but adaptation is for the most part
> >>> (based on my own experience), being prevented by over-abundance of
> >>> predators on reefs, which so often kill most of the surviving corals.
> >> This
> >>> is a testable hypothesis that could be an important part of the
> >>> of coral reefs. Predator removal during and after bleaching also gives
> >>> conservationists and activists something to do to fight back, rather
> >>> sitting on their butts and becoming depressed because there is nothing
> >> they
> >>> can do. People desperately need hope at this time, otherwise they may
> >> just
> >>> give up on coral reefs.
> >>> I am simply suggesting that for those who live near coral reefs, that
> >> they
> >>> might focus on what happens subsequently to a massive die off of
> >>> susceptible corals, knowing that the surviving resilient corals must
> >>> survive in order for the coral reefs to adapt to the new stressors.
> >>> Wherever 80-95% of the corals end up dead, high background numbers of
> >> COTS
> >>> and snails etc. seem to prevail nearly everywhere, and these predators
> >> have
> >>> the potential to kill everything (palatable) that survives the
> >>> Ironically for Pacific reefs, in my experience, it is the Stegastes
> >>> damselfish that are absolutely essential in the post-bleaching survival
> >> of
> >>> corals- on many reefs their territories are the ONLY place where any
> >>> Acropora or Pocillopora will escape the COTS. They actively attack the
> >>> COTS and drive them away, as if the COTS were invading sea urchins
> >>> to steal their algae. Another easily tested hypothesis, although there
> >> is
> >>> an older paper documenting this behavior from Pacific Panama.
> >>> In the Caribbean, I have found that snails and fire worms rarely kill
> >>> entire colony, and when they do it may take weeks for them to finish
> >>> job. However, in the Pacific, a single COTS will kill a fist-sized or
> >>> plate-sized piece of coral every day/night, and will normally kill
> >>> colonies before moving on. They can also form fronts and kill every
> >>> coral that is tasty to them. It is fairly safe to postulate that if we
> >>> remove a thousand COTS, that we have saved roughly 300,000 corals per
> >> year
> >>> for several years. Therefore, COTS removal can be very effective as
> >> even a
> >>> one-off intervention to help deal with this emergency. We have an
> >>> opportunity to protect and nurture pockets of reef and to encourage
> >>> accelerated recovery. The development of resilience to future bleaching
> >>> events will then occur, as these pockets of health end up becoming
> >>> with thermally adapted corals. Of course the bigger picture issues
> >> be
> >>> dealt with as well, but this approach can reinforce and support MPAs,
> >>> because without corals MPAs function poorly.
> >>> Whether COTS removal is an effective long-term strategy under normal
> >>> conditions was not my point of discussion. We sometimes do it for
> >>> community involvement as much as to save corals. Of course no-take
> >>> and nutrient control are better long-term solutions that address the
> >>> causes of predator over-abundance, but you have to have a strategy to
> >>> fishing community support, and this type of activity builds support
> >>> while offering a very real short-term solution to increase coral cover
> >> and
> >>> fish habitat, as Janis and Brooks and many others will testify.
> >>> Again, my original point is that we have an opportunity to act NOW, and
> >> so
> >>> I shared a new idea that has potential to motivate communities, NGOs,
> >>> hopefully scientists, and that helps give the surviving corals a future
> >> and
> >>> the people involved more hope. The key element of the strategy is to
> >> keep
> >>> the precious corals that survive alive even after the bleaching abates,
> >> and
> >>> by whatever means that are at our disposal. This will include predator
> >>> removal and the collection and propagation of corals that thrive in
> >>> of hot water and post-stress disease.
> >>> Shouldn't we protect these survivors like we would precious gold and
> >>> diamonds? We put our precious cash and heirlooms into secure banks,
> >> so
> >>> why not create secure "gene bank nurseries" for cultivating resilient
> >>> corals (temperature, disease, etc.). This is exactly what we have done
> >> in
> >>> Belize and the Dominican Republic, and we are then using second
> >> generation
> >>> fragments trimmed from the nurseries, to restore coral cover to rather
> >>> sizable patches within no-take MPAs where the Acropora corals have not
> >>> returned in spite of other types of management.
> >>> We did all of this in spite of opposition from certain of you within
> >>> coral reef research community, who went so far as to publish a formal
> >>> position paper that dismissed our efforts, based on incorrect
> >>> about what we were actually doing. Of course the opposition made it
> >>> difficult to access funding. I hope that our ultimate success has now
> >> made
> >>> it clear that certainly there is room for every approach.
> >>> Austin
> >>> _______________________________________________
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> > --
> > "... the earth is, always has been, and always will be more beautiful
> > it is useful." - Ophuls, 1977
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Austin Bowden-Kerby, PhD
Corals for Conservation
P.O. Box 4649 Samabula, Fiji Islands
Sustainable Environmental Livelihoods Farm
Km 20 Sigatoka Valley Road, Fiji Islands
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