Corals of warm and cold seas

Golf ball coral

The next presentation at the marine biology day was by Michaël Laterveer, of the Oceanium of Blijdorp zoo in Rotterdam.

His subject was coral reefs, which are in trouble by many environmental problems.

The aim of the Oceanium, the big aquarium of the zoo, is to breed as much coral as possible without needing to catch live coral in the sea.

The Oceanium for this had to catch their original coral near Curaçao in the Caribbean.

100% of the coral survived the cross Atlantic journey thanks to careful transport.

Less known than coral in tropical waters, but maybe even more numerous, is coral in deep colder waters.

Blijdorp already has cold water corals, and, as a first for any zoo, will show them to the public soon.

As for tropical coral, there has been successful breeding of golf ball coral and stony turban coral.

The zoo plans to bring part of their successfully bred new coral generations back to the oceans to help reefs recover.

Elkhorn coral is a beautiful species, limited to the Caribbean.

95% of its original numbers are gone.

It only breeds on a few days in the year, only in the evening, from 9:30 pm to 9:45 pm.

Recently, there was a breakthrough, as 900.000 elkhorn coral larvae were bred in aquariums.

See also here.

And here.

Cold water corals of Canadian Atlantic: here.

Living coral reef is discovered off the coast of GREENLAND: here.

Diversity Partitioning of Stony Corals Across Multiple Spatial Scales Around Zanzibar Island, Tanzania: here.

Coral larvae can’t settle in acidifying oceans: here.

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9 thoughts on “Corals of warm and cold seas

  1. Study ties coral disease to warmer oceans
    Tue May 8, 2007 3:29AM EDT

    By Jim Loney

    MIAMI (Reuters) – Warmer sea temperatures are linked to the severity of a coral disease, according to a study on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef that offers a dire warning about global warming’s potential impact on the world’s troubled reefs.

    The 6-year study released on Monday tracked the relationship between water temperature and the frequency of a coral disease called white syndrome across more than 900 miles of the world’s largest coral reef.

    “We’ve linked disease and warm water, which is one of the aspects of global warming,” said John Bruno, the study’s lead author. “Our study suggests as global warming warms the oceans more and more, we could see more disease outbreaks and more severe ones.”

    The results of the study, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, were to be published on Tuesday in the online journal PLoS Biology.

    Researchers have suspected for years that warm sea temperatures were responsible for disease outbreaks on coral reefs. But Bruno said the study was the first to conclusively connect the two.

    Reefs are undersea rock formations built by tiny animals called coral polyps. They are important habitats and nurseries for fish and other sea creatures.

    Scientists estimate about a quarter of the world’s coral has been permanently lost and another 30 percent could disappear over the next 30 years.


  2. Florida’s elkhorn coral nears extinction

    Powered by CDNN – CYBER DIVER News Network


    KEY LARGO, Florida (30 Nov 2008) — The last, largest stands of ancient elkhorn coral survive in shallow waters off North Key Largo, where rough seas sometimes expose thick golden branches reaching toward the sunlit surface.

    Forty years ago, elkhorn grew in dense forests that would cover parking lots. Now, the biggest clump would barely fill one space.

    In another 40 years, elkhorn could disappear altogether — along with just about every other hard coral forming South Florida’s once-vibrant barrier reefs.

    Federal regulators last week designated a 1,329-square-mile strip of sea bottom stretching from southern Palm Beach County to the Dry Tortugas as critical habitat for elkhorn and staghorn corals, two species that have long formed the foundation of barrier reefs off Florida and in the Caribbean.

    But a new report by the Environmental Defense Fund and co-authored by two University of Miami scientists argues localized protections will do little to address the biggest threat to reefs.

    Global warming is not only accelerating problems that already have sickened and shrunken coral reefs, it has created a new, potentially more lethal threat: Increasingly acidic ocean waters that can reduce living coral to dead rubble.

    The report, ”Corals and Climate Change: Florida’s Natural Treasures at Risk,” concludes that 5,000-year-old reefs, which support an array of marine life, will be among the first ecosystems to collapse if greenhouse gas levels continue to rise in the atmosphere.

    ”All of the forecasts show that at the rate we’re going that somewhere at the middle or the end of the century, it’s going to be very challenging for corals,” said Harold Wanless, UM’s chairman of geological sciences.

    Wanless, who has studied rising sea levels in South Florida for decades, is one of the report’s six co-authors, along with department colleague James Klaus, a UM assistant professor. The others: Terry Gibson, longtime environmental journalist in Florida; Patricia Foster-Turley, wildlife biologist based in Fernandina Beach; and Karen Florini and Thomas Olson, attorneys with the Environmental Defense Fund.


    Jerry Karnas, director of Environmental Defense’s Florida climate project, said the report bolsters the case for dramatic state, federal and international steps to reduce greenhouse emissions — particularly of carbon dioxide — largely produced by cars and power plants burning fossil fuels.

    ”We’re ground zero for impacts,” said Karnas, who served on Gov. Charlie Crist’s climate action team.

    The report doesn’t break new ground but it does compile the latest studies of reef decline, threats and ripple effects on both the environment and economy.

    It estimates the loss of reefs, which are a magnet for tourists, divers and anglers, would cost 70,000 jobs and $5.5 billion in sales annually in five southeast counties alone: Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe, Palm Beach and Martin.

    Staghorn and elkhorn corals, the first coral species to be listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in May 2006, came under new federal protection issued last week.

    Once the major reef builders in South Florida’s shallow barrier reefs, the large corals, whose stalks resemble the horns of their animal namesakes, have declined by as much as 97 percent off the Florida Keys and the Caribbean. Scattered colonies also have been found off Broward and Palm Beach counties.

    Last month, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued new regulations focused on direct human damage from anchoring, groundings, fishing, pollution and collection — similar to protections already in place in the Florida Keys National Marine Keys sanctuary.

    The agency followed up last week by designating waters less than 30 feet deep off the Southeast coast — from Boynton Beach to the Dry Tortugas — as critical habitat for the corals. It’s only about a third the size originally proposed, eliminating sections of Florida Bay and northern waters where the agency ruled the corals have not been historically found.

    Environmentalists and many scientists argue the new protections don’t address broader and increasing assaults on reefs, including assorted diseases and bouts of coral bleaching — a whitening that can weaken corals.

    Bleaching, linked to warming ocean temperatures, is just one of threat posed by climate change. Another one call ocean ”acidification” is a potentially far more damaging, said Chris Langdon, a professor at UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science.


    ”This is a new stressor over and on top of everything you have heard about already,” said Langdon, whose is among several UM scientists who have chronicled rising acidity in oceans.

    Simply put, oceans absorb much of the atmosphere’s excess carbon dioxide, where it dissolves. The resulting rise in the acidity of sea water — it’s jumped 30 percent over the last century — can cripple corals, which are particularly sensitive to changes in temperature, light and chemistry.

    It hinders polyps — the tiny living animals inside coral — from processing calcium, an essential component to building the hard coral skeleton that shelter them and build reefs. As ocean acidity increases, Langdon said, the rates of coral growth and reproduction slow and the swaths of the ocean where they can survive shrink.

    The coral itself also becomes thinner, more brittle and vulnerable to disease, hurricanes, human damage and natural parasites. Wanless likened what can happened to weakened or damaged reefs to ”termites going at a complex of wood.” Corals can literally dissolve into calcified sediment.

    If carbon dioxide emissions aren’t curtailed, the threats add up to what Langdon called a ”perfect storm” that could destroy much of the world’s reefs — perhaps within four to five decades.

    Wanless considers a four- to six-foot rise in sea level almost unavoidable over the next 50 to 100 years, an increase that would inundate the Everglades and hundreds of millions worth of coastal real estate. But he believes there is still time to prevent far more catastrophic damage — if people and policymakers will only pay closer attention to what already is happening just a few miles offshore.

    ”People just can’t imagine the world changing as it may this century,” he said.


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