All posts by Digital-Reefs

Caribbean Survey Reveals Rare Corals and Shipwrecks


(if the movie doesn’t play, try a different browser)

As part of the 8th Annual Caribbean Seafloor mission, scientists from the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) aboard the ‘Nancy Foster’ have discovered no less than 6 previously unknown shipwrecks in areas known for being ecological significant and commercially important fisheries.

Study team leader Tim Battista, an oceanographer with the Center for Coastal Monitoring said “The wrecks seemed to serve as a refuge for fish and other marine life. In several instances we saw schools of fish, sharks and turtles.”

Using sonar and submersibles to assist in the survey to help gathering valuable information on fish breeding area and underwater habitats, the team also found derelict fishing traps and spotted more than 30 invasive lionfish.

Increasingly rare colonies of staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) were also observed.

Read more at the mission homepage

Illegal Mining Sinks Islands in Marine National Park

Though they originally only stood some 3-5 metres above sea level, the total subsidence of two tiny coral atolls in the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, located between India and Sri Lanka, is sounding alarm bells.

Although protected, and in an area considered one of the world’s richest marine biological resources, Fishermen have illegally mined reefs around the islets of Poomarichan and Villanguchalli for many decades. The corals were mined for use as a binding material in the construction industry, as they were rich in calcium carbonate.

The Indian National Oceanographic Institute point out that very few of the islands and islets in the gulf are in good shape and experts stress the need to keep the remaining islands and islets “pristine” in order to offer them some protection them from processes such as climate change.

More from BBC News.

Bali Survey Yields New Fish and Coral Species

image credit: Conservation International

Various outlets are reporting the discovery of 8 new fish species and 1 new coral species during a survey along the North East Coast of Indonesia by Conservation International.

The survey, ranging from 10 to 70 metres depth at key tourist sites such as Tulamben, Nusa Dua, Gili Manuk and Pemuteran, revealed some 952 species in total including the new species which are thought to be from the genera Siphamia, Heteroconger, Apogon, Parapercis, Meiacanthus, Manonichthys, Grallenia and Pseudochromis. The new coral is believed to be a Euphyllia species.

More info via the Sydney Morning Herald and Physorg.com

Red Carpet Out for Ultra Aussie LPS delivery at Dreamreef, Leicester (UK)

image copyright Dreamreef

If offering this spectacular and rather rare red carpet anemone wasn’t enough to get you interested, keep your eyes open for an influx of mouthwatering LPS at this store in the very near future.

Adding to stock already on offer, an exlusive look at the list reveals some 25 Acanthastreas, 25 Scolymias, 30 Symphyllia wilsonis, 25 Trachyphyllias and 15 Cynarinas are due-in… all ultra grade and CITES approved.

Heads-up also for a shipment next week of Indonesian hard corals at the same store to include Euphyllias, Favias, Acroporas and Montiporas plus others… AND to cap it off, a Vietnamese Zoa and Ricordea order!

Visit their website for further info, or check out the thread at Ultimatereef.

Cephalopod Camouflage Scrutinised by US Navy Researchers

Cuttlefish aren’t too commonly kept by marine aquarists, but now, the US Office of Naval Research is reported to be interested in them with a view to reverse engineering their amazing ability to change colour, pattern and texture.

Roger Hanlon and his team at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts are researching the way cuttlefish skin behaves. In 2008, Hanlon’s team discovered that the skin of cuttlefish and other cephalopods contains light-sensing proteins called opsins. These are the same proteins found in eyes and are thought to help their skin function as a distributed seeing organ.

Here’s a link to Roger’s site: http://www.mbl.edu/mrc/hanlon/video.html

Toadfish Cries Under Investigation

A Toadfish - image copyright digital-reefs 2011

It’s not the only species to make noises underwater, but thanks to recent observations by Aaron Rice at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, the Three-spined Toadfish is now known to be unusual in that it can make non-linear calls, similar to a crying baby.

Key to it’s ability to perform this is the fact that this particular species has a swim bladder that is divided into two. Coupled with a muscles that can resonate this organ, the Toadfish is capable of producing biphonic calls  that essentially gives the animal two distinct but simultaneous voices.

What exactly the fish uses these calls for is unknown at present but further studies are planned.

Full article at Newscientist HERE

Giant Calcium Reactors Proposed to Save Reefs

(Image: Georgette Douwma/SPL)

Using technology that will be familiar to many a marine aquarist, scientist Greg Rau of the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has recently proposed a method to combat the acidification of the oceans that is threatening the health of wild coral reefs…. but rather than a CO2 cylinder, Rau proposes using CO2 captured from the flue gas of power stations.

Newscientist reports that Rau initially pumped seawater and CO2 gas over Limestone particles. As occurs in aquarists Calcium Reactors, the CO2 formed Carbonic acid in the seawater, and the acid then reacted with the Limestone to produce Calcium bicarbonate. With the operation scaled up massively, Rau proposes that the effluent, high in pH and dissolved minerals could then be pumped into the ocean for dispersal by currents.

Other experts, such as Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Stanford, California, are cautious about the effectiveness of the idea. Caldiera suggests that rather than saving entire oceans, smaller areas such as enclosed bays would be more likely to benefit from the process, and only as a last resort.

Viable or not, it’s certainly interesting to see technology derived from the reefkeeping hobby being re-engineered with the protection of wild reefs in mind.

Full article at Newscientist HERE – discuss below.