UK Scientists Attempt To Copy Coral Sunscreen Secrets

image: digital-reefs

As part of a three-year project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), a team of researchers at King’s College London are investigating the genetic and biochemical processes behind how tropical reefbuilding coral species produce ‘sunscreen’ compounds, with the ultimate aim of recreating them synthetically for use in developing sun protection.

Recently, the King’s team collected coral samples for analysis from the Great Barrier Reef, in collaboration with renowned experts in the field, Dr Walter Dunlap from the Australian Institute for Marine Science and Prof Malcolm Shick from the University of Maine USA.

As well as benefitting humans, such research could lead to valuable insights into coral bleaching events, and may even enable to the development of UV resistant crops that could alleviate food shortages in areas with harsh climates. 

Read more HERE

Clipperton Atoll: Steve Robinson Pleads Guilty To Illegal Collection

image by reefbuilders

It was the thing that prompted the creation of the Protect the Reef Fishes of Clipperton Atoll petition… the senseless deaths of dozens of rare Holacanthus limbaughi Clipperton Angelfishes, caused simply by the actions of one greedy and unscrupulous fish collector.

Now, Steve Robinson of Cortez Marine, the man responsible, is facing up to a year in prison plus a $100,000 fine for the illegal collection that went so horribly wrong, en-route from Clipperton Atoll in 2009.

Although it lies far off the coast of Mexico, Clipperton Atoll is a French possession and therefore permits must be attained from the relevant authorities before any such activity can take place. Actually, correspondence we had with the French Polynesian authorites confirmed that they had been systematically refusing such activity as the population of this species has never been properly assessed. We were therefore happy to tell them about Steve’s visit there (which they seemed unaware of at the time) and lets hope this may have played some small part in bringing his operation to light.

We’ll be watching closely to see what happens at sentencing in November. Until then many thanks to all who signed the petition and joined the Facebook group.

More at Reefbuilders

Coral Stress Map Aims To Assist Reef Preservation

In an attempt to conserve some of the world’s most important coral reefs, marine researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups have formulated a detailed map of the world’s corals and their exposure to various stress factors.

Using a mass of publicly available data from satellites, and a branch of mathematics known as fuzzy logic, factors including high temperatures, ultra-violet radiation, weather systems, sedimentation, as well as stress-reducing factors such as temperature variability and tidal dynamics were all analysed with the aim of identifying ecosystems where management has the best chance of success.

“Coral reefs around the globe are under pressure from a variety of factors such as higher temperatures, sedimentation, and human-related activities such as fishing and coastal development,” said Joseph M. Maina, WCS conservationist and lead author on the study. “The key to effectively identifying where conservation efforts are most likely to succeed is finding reefs where high biodiversity and low stress intersect.”

To read the paper click HERE.

Tunze Video Focuses On Flow Quality

A Youtube video just released by Tunze provides a detailed explanation of the function and importance of efficient flow in aquaria.

Furthermore, the video, which appears to be a response to the conclusions drawn in a recent study of stream pump flow rates published on the Advanced Aquarist blog site, goes on to show a number of tests which appear to indicate that Tunze designed pumps balance this quality of flow differently to a number of unspecified competitor units.

Take a look at the video and draw your own conclusions!

New Sponsor: Ocean Corals, UK

image: Ocean Corals

Digital-Reefs would like to welcome Ocean Corals on-board as a sponsor!

Based in Clifton Moor, York, this shop offers in excess of 300 corals and 200 fish at any one time, making it one of the largest stockists of marine fish and corals in the Northern UK.

As demonstrated by their recent stunning LPS import, they really are dedicated to sourcing the most sought after marine fish and corals available here in the UK.

Dry goods are also in stock which include suppliers such as TMC, D&D, Deltec, Maxspect, VorTech, Korrallen Zucht, New Era and many more.

Full tank set ups are also available and are fully customised to the customer’s needs.

Take the time to see their latest stock by clicking the banner below.

GIS Techniques Shed Light on Caribbean Coral Disease

image courtesy of Doug Cook,

Caribbean reef-building Acroporid corals have suffered a massive decline in the last 30 years with more than 90% succumbing to White Band Disease (WBD). Despite this, the disease is still poorly understood. The loss of such species not only leads to the collapse of entire communites of marine organisms, but also removes the reef as a natural barrier against hurricanes.

Now, scientists from the University of Florida have had the bright idea of applying Geographic Information Systems (GIS) techniques, as well as software previously used to examine human illness, to show where clusters of diseased coral exist with a view to finding out what exactly causes WBD outbreaks.

Initial research has already shown patterns that may not have been identified using exisiting techniques and it is proposed that these new methods could prove useful in other locations around the World, where this disease has also been reported.

For more information click HERE