Judith Lang jlang at riposi.net
Thu Jul 28 10:16:38 EDT 2016

Hi everyone,
A nightmare indeed; condolences from all of us who treasure the Flower Garden Bank reefs.

Although 86F (30C) isn’t extravagently high, I think this is about the annual warmest temperature on the banks and, if so, it might already be above the seasonal average for mid-summer.

Lynton Land (my husband) immediately asked if the Gulf dead zone might have impacted this area. Told him I’m pretty sure the banks are too far offshore to be under its influence, but weather patterns over the continent have been unusual this year, so maybe that’s another straw at which to grasp….At least a NOAA vessel should be tracking its movements around the Gulf this week (http://www.noaa.gov/average-‘dead-zone’-gulf-mexico-predicted).

Please quickly clarify how to preserve affected tissues for metagenomic analyses for Emma and her team.


Judy Lang
AGRRA Scientific Coordinator

> On Jul 28, 2016, at 9:45 AM, Kaufman, Leslie S <lesk at bu.edu> wrote:
> Hey Bill.  
> Oh, wow- the nightmare. It’s like when something bad afoot finally reaches out to an actual family member.
> OK.
> Emma and GP- beside what you’d already mentioned, I suggest preserving affected tissues for metagenomic analysis (DNA and mRNA).  We do not have to run them, but as the situation clarifies, sequence and transcriptomic data could be clinchers.  
> It doesn’t sound like temperature, but of course thermal data will be important- if there are loggers out might be wise to download them just to make sure the data are secure.
> Might be worth talking to Esther Peters for instructions on histological preservation, but since this is a cross-taxon mass-kill most of the pathology will likely just indicate (superficially) that the critters are sick and dying, not necessarily how come.
> I think a brief moratorium during close monitoring are justified as a cautionary move.  This won’t be fun.  
> There has not been any oil spotted in the area, right?  Because that is one thing that this sounds like.  Have there ever been seeps observed actually within the reef caps on either E or W?  Grasping at straws here….
> Les
> Les Kaufman
> Professor of Biology
> Boston University Marine Program
> Faculty Fellow, Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future
> and
> Conservation Fellow
> Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science 
> Conservation International
> lesk at bu.edu <mailto:lesk at bu.edu> 
> On Jul 28, 2016, at 9:17 AM, William Precht <william.precht at gmail.com <mailto:william.precht at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> This made me ill while reading:-(
>> Sent from my iPhone
>> Begin forwarded message:
>>> From: James Hendee <jim.hendee at noaa.gov <mailto:jim.hendee at noaa.gov>>
>>> Date: July 28, 2016 at 6:30:36 AM EDT
>>> To: Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov <mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>>
>>> Greetings,
>>>    Dr. Gittings' message was incorrectly formatted (image was
>>> attached), but due to the emergency nature of the message, I am posting
>>> this for him.  Please note this is from him, and to contact him for any
>>> feedback (i.e., not me).
>>>    Thanks!
>>>    Jim
>>> Subject:
>>> From:
>>> Steve Gittings - NOAA Federal <steve.gittings at noaa.gov <mailto:steve.gittings at noaa.gov>>
>>> Date:
>>> 7/27/16, 5:08 PM
>>> To:
>>> "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov <mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov <mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>>,
>>> Cheryl Woodley - NOAA Federal <cheryl.woodley at noaa.gov <mailto:cheryl.woodley at noaa.gov>>, _NOS ONMS
>>> Leadership Team <onmslt at noaa.gov <mailto:onmslt at noaa.gov>>, _NOS ONMS Conservation Science
>>> Division <onmscsd at noaa.gov <mailto:onmscsd at noaa.gov>>, nmsprc at noaa.gov <mailto:nmsprc at noaa.gov>, Ed Levine - NOAA Federal
>>> <ed.levine at noaa.gov <mailto:ed.levine at noaa.gov>>, Lisa Symons <Lisa.Symons at noaa.gov <mailto:Lisa.Symons at noaa.gov>>, Edward
>>> Lindelof - NOAA Federal <edward.lindelof at noaa.gov <mailto:edward.lindelof at noaa.gov>>, Bill Goodwin - NOAA
>>> Federal <Bill.Goodwin at noaa.gov <mailto:Bill.Goodwin at noaa.gov>>, Bill Precht <bill.precht at noaa.gov <mailto:bill.precht at noaa.gov>>,
>>> "Boland, Gregory S" <Gregory.Boland at boem.gov <mailto:Gregory.Boland at boem.gov>>, William Kiene
>>> <william.kiene at noaa.gov <mailto:william.kiene at noaa.gov>>
>>> I just got a call from Emma Hickerson, Research Coordinator for the
>>> Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.  She's on the East Flower
>>> Garden Bank and reports what appears to be an unprecedented mass dieoff
>>> of numerous species of at least corals, sea urchins, brittle stars, and
>>> sponges over a large area.  She says large mats of tissue are sloughing
>>> off and there appear to be large bacterial mats on the bottom.  Large
>>> amounts of material and haze in the water is making for virtually zero
>>> visibility in some places.  Water temperature is 86F.  She isn't certain
>>> of areal coverage, but believes it to be affecting the areas containing
>>> at least three mooring buoys (4, 5, and 6).  I believe these buoys are
>>> about 100 m from one another.  She did not see it at Buoy 2 (the
>>> long-term monitoring study site), which is on the east edge of the reef
>>> a similar distance away.  They will continue survey and do random drops
>>> to determine the extent.  
>>> 1) Emma would like advice on collection and preservation of materials. 
>>> They have ethanol, formalin, and freezer space on board, but I don't
>>> know about other details (jars, etc.)
>>> 2) Does anyone believe that an emergency closure is warranted to reduce
>>> spread of the problem by divers, or for any other reason?
>>> 3) They are disinfecting dive gear, I believe with a vinegar solution. 
>>> Any additional suggestions on better or additional protocols?
>>> Thanks very much for any advice.  I can pass it along to the field crew
>>> via sat phone.
>>> Steve
>>> -- 
>>> Dr. Steve Gittings, Science Coordinator
>>> NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
>>> 1305 East West Hwy., N/ORM62
>>> Silver Spring, MD  20910
>>> (240) 533-0708 (w), (301) 529-1854 (c)
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Coral-List mailing list
>>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov <mailto:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>>> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list <http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list>

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