[Coral-List] Fwd: exotic or invasive? introduction of Caribbean acroporiids to the pacific

sealab at earthlink.net sealab at earthlink.net
Tue Dec 18 23:17:23 UTC 2018

Great post Doug!
Hopefully no one will consider such a thing.  

On another note, ever been bitten or should I say  
beaked by an octopus?  I have. Totally my fault of course.  

That was a really great post👍🏻

Sent from EarthLink Mobile mail
On 12/18/18, 3:09 PM, Douglas Fenner via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:

From: Douglas Fenner via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
To: Coral-List Subscribers <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Subject: [Coral-List] Fwd: exotic or invasive? introduction of Caribbean acroporiids to the pacific
Date: December 18, 2018 at 3:09:59 PM EST
Although the Eastern Pacific currently has no *Acropora*, the  
Indo-Pacific has at least 165 species, compared to the Caribbean's 2  
species and one hybrid. The Caribbean and Eastern Pacific have been  
completely separated since the Panama land bridge arose, I think that was  
about 2.5 million years ago. All of the zooxanthellate coral species  
currently living in the Eastern Pacific naturally are from the  
Indo-Pacific, none are from the Caribbean, except a half dozen or so  
colonies of *Siderastrea siderea* that were introduced into Pacific Panama  
as pieces of skeleton for experiments, and weren't expected to survive and  
grow . They are now in aquaria, I believe. The Caribbean and Indo-Pacific  
also share no natural zooxanthellate coral species (a few mushroom  
corals (*Fungia  
scutaria*) were taken from the Indo-Pacific to the Discovery Bay, Jamaica,  
lab and kept in aquaria. At some point, unnamed person(s) placed some of  
those on the reef there, and decades later they were found and recovered,  
they appeared not to have reproduced.)  
Moving species between oceans is not advisable, it is introducing  
species which may become invasive, like the Indo-Pacific lionfish that were  
introduced into Florida waters and which have spread throughout the  
tropical western Atlantic and are having huge negative effects on the  
ecosystems there. For corals, my initial thought is that the greater risk  
is introducing coral diseases from one ocean into another. The tropical  
western Atlantic including Florida and the Caribbean has had and continues  
to have, huge damage to coral populations from diseases. The coral  
diseases in the western tropical Atlantic appear to be different from those  
in the Indo-Pacific. Introducing any corals from the Caribbean into the  
eastern Pacific carries the risk of introducing lethal diseases into the  
Indo-Pacific that could cause untold damage to corals there. White band  
disease, last I knew, was the primary cause for the huge decline of the two  
*Acropora* species in the tropical western Atlantic. Although there is  
white disease in *Acropora* in the Indo-Pacific, that probably is not the  
same disease as white band in the Caribbean, and *Acropora* in the  
Indo-Pacific have not been damaged by disease anything like the *Acropora*  
in the western tropical Atlantic. Please DO NOT move any corals from one  
ocean to the other, in either direction, nor any other organisms. We have  
enough trouble with introduced invasive species as it is. That certainly  
includes anyone releasing any corals from an aquarium into an ocean that  
they didn't come from. Don't even move them more than a matter of meters  
within an ocean, certainly not from one island or reef to the next without  
a lot of very careful and extensive consideration (as Vassil suggested) by  
all stakeholders and government approval. Predators (such as snails),  
parasites, commensals, and certainly other parts of the holobiont can all  
easily be transported that way and any could become invasive and cause  
havoc. It is nearly 100% certain that if you move a coral, all parts of  
the holobiont will come with the coral host, so many kinds of bacteria,  
viruses, etc. Once they have been introduced, it is at present near  
impossible to get rid of them (see "lionfish"). When in doubt, error on  
the precautionary side and don't move anything more than a few meters,  
including "live rock". "Live rock" is honeycombed with holes full of a  
wide variety of organisms, not to mention that virtually any surfaces in  
ocean water are covered with microbial films. Don't even move water  
between oceans, ocean water is full of microbes like bacteria and viruses,  
in addition to various plankton. Mind you, ships do this on a daily basis  
with large volumes of sea water as they take in ballast water one place and  
release it another place. Ships have moved and introduced species many  
times and caused a myriad of problems with introduced species.  
As much as the Caribbean and Florida Acropora have declined, there  
are still millions of colonies alive. They are not in danger of immediate  
extinction. Efforts to stop their decline and hopefully help their  
recovery can be and are being carried out in the Caribbean and Florida  
without moving any into the Pacific.  
Sorry to be a wet towel, but this is important. Absolutely no  
offense intended, all suggestions were just innocent suggestions.  
Cheers, Doug  

On Tue, Dec 18, 2018 at 5:41 AM Vassil Zlatarski via Coral-List <  
coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:  

Indeed, very interesting. Nevertheless, any action requires very serious  
scientific preparation and professional responsibility.  

A joyful Holiday Season!  


Vassil Zlatarski  
D.Sc (Biology), Ph.D. (Geology)  

---------- Forwarded message ---------  
From: Bill Raymond via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>  
Date: Mon, Dec 17, 2018 at 7:35 PM  
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] exotic or invasive? introduction of Caribbean  
acroporiids to the pacific  
To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>, Damien Beri <beridl at g.cofc.edu>  

Very interesting! I hope you get some answers, and I hope you get the  
chance to find out for yourself. Bravo.  
On Monday, December 17, 2018, 4:17:10 PM EST, Damien Beri via  
Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:  

Hello coral listers,  

I have a question on what might happen if one was to introduce Caribbean  
Elkhorn and Staghorn coral back into the Pacific?  

It is my understanding an ancestor of the two produced pelagic larvae,  
containing zooxanthellae and stored nutrients to make a rare oceanic  
crossing. A majority of Caribbean corals reproduce this way I believe.  

I ask this hypothetical question on the basis of curiosity, and extinction  
prevention. Re-introduction of species will probably be a more suitable  
topic 50 years down the road.  

Warm regards,  
Damien Beri  

-Masters In Marine Conservation and Policy  
Stony Brook University  

-Regulatory Compliance Intern  
Billion Oyster Project  

Reefined Arts Coral Restoration  

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Douglas Fenner  
Ocean Associates, Inc. Contractor  
NOAA Fisheries Service  
Pacific Islands Regional Office  
PO Box 7390  
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799 USA  

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