[Coral-List] Proactive Responses to Mass Coral Bleaching

Austin Bowden-Kerby abowdenkerby at gmail.com
Tue Mar 29 19:54:32 EDT 2016

Dear List,
In Fiji we experienced our first recorded mass bleaching in 2000, with >90%
mortality on many reefs.  It was indeed tragic, but I felt a bit encouraged
by the few unbleached, resistant corals.  However, that initial hope was
quickly dashed to bits when COTS ate virtually all of the surviving corals,
quickly consuming their preferred species (*Acropora, Pocillopora*) before
moving on to some of the less palatable ones.  This happened even at sites
with low COTS abundance prior to the bleaching, as the relative abundance
went through the roof when most of the corals died.

We are once again experiencing a mass bleaching event at our sites, but
this time we are doing something about it:  1. Predator removal (and
weeding of seaweeds if needed), to save the corals that didn’t bleach, and
2. Collecting fragments of the unbleached branching corals to ensure that
they don’t succumb post-bleaching.  We will be growing these resistant
corals in field nurseries to form a gene bank of the various species.  The
corals will be trimmed each year to prevent senescence and to create large
numbers of second generation fragments for out-planting back to the reef,
within no-take MPAs where possible.  The goal is to create sizable patches
of bleaching resistant corals that spawn, recombine, and spread their
genetics and symbionts and thus offer some hope against future mass
bleaching events.

This proactive strategy to give the reef a helping hand in this time of
crisis can be applied widely to help the reef adapt: GBR, Hawaii, Kiribati,
etc.  If any are interested, I can send the manual of the various nursery
and outplanting methods, or you can find it under my publications on
ResearchGate.  Whoever is in a position presently to help bleaching
tolerant, climate change adapted corals survive, please do so.  Also please
consider supporting our Fiji initiative through Global Giving.


This is indeed a depressing and down right scary crisis.... more than ever
it is vital that each of us keep our chin up and focus on something

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
(679) 938-6437




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