Less May Be More If Corals Want To Cope

In recent years, the general perception has been that corals which possess a variety of different Symbiodinium symbiotic algae species prove to be more resistant to environmental stresses than their more ‘choosy’ cousin which perhaps only host a single or few species of the algae within their tissues.

It comes as a surprise therefore that scientists of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) at the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) and colleagues have recently documented that the more flexible corals are, the more sensitive they seem to environment disturbances.

“This is exactly the opposite of what we expected,” said Hollie Putnam, PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii – Manoa, lead author of the study. This finding was surprising, as it is thought corals exploit the ability to host a variety of Symbiodinium to adapt to climate change. “Our findings suggest more is not always better,” she continued.

Sampling Symbiodinium DNA across a range of environments, Putnam and colleagues were able to link, for the first time, patterns in environmental performance of corals to the number and variety of symbionts they host. Resultant patterns show the environmentally resistant corals were those that associate with one or few specific types of Symbiodinium (termed ‘Specifists’), rather than those that associated with many (Generalists).

In the future, researchers aim to examine the exact causes of the differences in hardiness between coral species and look across much larger areas in locations such as Hawaii, Moorea, Taiwan and American Samoa. This further understanding may enable better predictions of the resistance of reefs to further ocean warming and acidification.

Read more HERE

ROVs Capture First Film Of Rare Sea Toad

Using ROVs, marine scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California have captured the first ever video of the rare deep-sea anglerfish Chaunacops coloratus which was hitherto known only from a dead specimen collected in 1899.

Beginning life as a transparent larvae, researchers now believe these unique fish transform into blue juveniles and then finally turn red at adulthood. In addition, the ROV footage shows that C. coloratus can live as deep as 11,000 feet below the ocean’s surface and use their built-in lures to attract prey as they walk around on the seafloor!

Documentary Is An SOS For Seahorses

Heads-up, Seahorse Aquariums has a new documentary airing this Friday on Sky’s Eden channel. Current scheduling is for a showing at 11.00am and then repeats at 1.00pm & 9.00pm.

In case you didn’t already know, Seahorses are used in abundance in Chinese medicine and this documentary contains the first ever footage by a western film crew into China’s Traditional Medicine factories. Seahorse Aquariums and their new charity ‘Save Our Seahorses’ have joined with several major international organisations and together these organisations are currently working alongside the Chinese government to make changes into how seahorses are treated. The Seahorse Man has also been nominated for an award in the Malaysian film festival, for his innovation and dedication. This documentary has the voice over from John Hurt and there will be a mini version of the documentary shown in the in-flight entertainment on internal Chinese flights and in Sea life centres around the world. The more publicity generated the better for the seahorse, so please watch and leave your comments on their facebook page.

Please also join the cause at www.saveourseahorses.org and click here to see more about the show.

Exclusive: SAIA Movie English Version Released

Continuing our support for the SAIA (Sustainable Aquarium Industry Association), we have been given exclusive permission to announce the finalised, full English-speaking version of their video which forms part of an exhibition aimed at raising awareness on various environmental and social aspects of the marine aquarium trade at its source. SAIA stress that ‘neither movie nor exhibition are aimed at blackmailing the marine aquarium trade… rather these tools were developed to gain support for training programs in the Philippines and Indonesia to improve these sources’.

The movie includes eye-opening footage of collection methods for marine aquarium fish in the Philippines including Cyanide fishing which has unfortunately become prevalent in the South East Asian marine aquarium fishery, and is a major threat to coral reef health.

The SAIA-Exhibition starts autumn 2012 in Germany.

Tuskfish At TMC Isn’t Your Usual Type

TMC Bristol have recently imported this interesting sub-adult Orange-dotted Tuskfish Choerodon anchorago.

A little different to the commonly offered (but perhaps more attractively coloured) Harlequin Tuskfish, this species will require a large tank, growing to around 38cm. An Indo-Pacific species, adults inhabit reef flats and lagoons, in areas with seagrass or mixed sand, rubble, and coral up to around 25 metres depth. Here, they feed mainly on hard-shelled prey including crustaceans, mollusks and sea urchins.

New Sponsor: Oceanlife Aquatics, UK

Having worked with Oceanlife Aquatics and seen (and imaged) their stunning work first hand, it gives us great pleasure to welcome them onto Digital-Reefs as our latest sponsoring organisation.

As experts in the design, installation and maintenance of themed aquariums their services are available across the UK, as well as Europe and the Middle East. They’ve even worked with corporate companies such as River Island and Center Parcs, prominent restaurants and bars as well as private individuals including premiership footballers.

From a simple goldfish bowl to a bespoke marine reef aquarium, they can turn your dream fish tank into reality! Click on their banner below to see their handywork.

Review: Arcadia OT2 LED – Hybrid T5/LED Light Unit

Following on from experiments in which we sought to enhance SPS coral colouration in our test system with a programme of trace element supplementation, we decided to upgrade the lighting on our test tank and finally took the plunge into the realm of LED lighting.

After using Metal Halides for a number of years, we were pretty sceptical about the ability of LEDs to provide sufficient usable light for coral growth (let alone good colour) despite the marketing hype. Also, the whole LED market seemed confusing initially and there are obviously some substandard units on the market. For this reason, we decided to stick with a well-regarded UK manufacturer and went for an Arcadia OT2 LED Hybrid T5 and LED system.

Continue reading Review: Arcadia OT2 LED – Hybrid T5/LED Light Unit

Mass Spawning Of Rare Pillar Corals Observed

For the first time ever, scientists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have documented male and female pillar corals Dendrogyra cylindrus spawning.

Diving off Key Largo in the ‘Pillar Coral Forest’ (an area within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary), researchers witnessed male pillar coral colonies releasing clouds of milky sperm, followed by females a few minutes later discharging eggs at precisely 9:47 pm, just after the full moon .

Until the recent discovery, it was unclear if female pillar corals existed in Florida. “We were so excited to see the girls,” said Kate Lunz, research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “We were kind of wondering if there were any girls here. But they all sort of mixed together with multiple coral colonies going off — sometimes twice.”

Despite the good news, another group of researchers (led by Ken Nedimyer, founder of the non-profit Coral Restoration Foundation in Key Largo), were disheartened somewhat by the lack of spawning by endangered Elkhorn and Staghorn coral offshore.

“Maybe they are spawning really late at night on the reef and we’re just not seeing it,” Nedimyer said. “It’s odd, but this is not an exact science.”

Pest Worms Finally Found On Wild Coral

image: Dr K RawlinsonCommonly known as Acro Eating Flatworms (or AEFW), Amakusaplana acroporae were only scientifically named back in 2011.

About a centimetre long and almost transparent, these voracious predators of Acroporid corals take small bites of tissue and lay their eggs directly onto the coral. When the eggs hatch dozens of new worms join the feast. As such, they are capable of proliferating rapidly in closed systems, and killing off entire colonies in a short time.

For the past 10 years the worm has plagued aquariums and reef restoration projects alike, but has never before been found in the wild. Now, marine biologist Jessica Stella of James Cook University in Townsville, has discovered a population living on an Acropora colony in the waters of Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Her findings are reported in the journal PLoS One.

Now that the worm has been found in the wild on apparently healthy coral, it is hoped that scientists will be better able to study its ecology, and find out if there are any predators keeping it in check. This could have knock-on benefits for reefkeepers of course and we await further discoveries with a keen sense of anticipation.