New coral species discovery in Panama


This 2011 video is called Coral reefs near Bocas Del Toro, Panama.

From the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute:

New soft coral species discovered in Panama

September 14, 2018

Summary: Another new coral found in Panama’s Coiba National Park, a UNESCO National Heritage Site, the location of the Smithsonian’s newest research site.

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the only other species in the genus in the eastern Pacific, T. variabilis.

T. dalioi is named for Ray Dalio, a supporter of marine exploration. Its name is intended to recognize Dalio’s valuable contributions to marine research and public outreach. Hannibal Bank, part of the Coiba National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a coastal seamount and a biodiversity hot spot that has only been explored recently. “After just two expeditions using submersibles down to 300 meters, we have identified 17 species of octocorals for the Hannibal Bank, including the discovery and description of three new species”, said Hector M. Guzman, marine ecologist at STRI and one of the authors of the study.

Light-dependent coral and algae, as well as other life-forms found in low-light environments, live on mesophotic reefs: meso means middle and photic means light. These reefs, such as the one where T. dalioi was found, are considered fragile habitats with a high diversity of corals, algae and sponges. They are also generally neglected in most environmental and conservation policies because they are difficult to reach. Hannibal Bank is one of the spots requiring more attention for its protection. “The present study should provide the basis for further research on the genus and contributes to the diversity and distribution knowledge of octocorals from the mesophotic zone in the eastern Pacific Ocean”, said Odalisca Breedy, marine biologist at CIMAR and one of the authors of the study.

“Medical researchers have identified therapeutic benefits derived from both soft and hard corals such as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, bone repair and neurological benefits”, said Guzman. “But our ability to contribute to the understanding of soft corals and their habitats, depends not only on steady funding for the use of submersibles, but also on our continued ability to obtain permission to work in Coiba National Park.”

Advertisements

Forest conservation helps coral reefs


This video says about itself:

Video highlights of diving on Rainbow Reef in the Somosomo Strait, West of Taveuni in Fiji. July 2017.

Change your [YouTube video] settings to HD!!

From the Wildlife Conservation Society:

How forest conservation helps coral reefs

August 28, 2018

Researchers from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (UH Mānoa), WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), and other groups are discovering how forest conservation in Fiji can minimize the impact of human activities on coral reefs and their fish populations.

Specifically, authors of a newly published study in the journal Scientific Reports have used innovative modeling tools to identify specific locations on the land where conservation actions would yield the highest benefits for downstream reefs in terms of mitigating harm to coral communities and associated reef fish populations.

The authors of the study titled “Scenario Planning with Linked Land-Sea Models Inform Where Forest Conservation Actions Will Promote Coral Reef Resilience” are: Jade M. S. Delevaux, Stacy D. Jupiter, Kostantinos A. Stamoulis, Leah L. Bremer, Amelia S. Wenger, Rachel Dacks, Peter Garrod, Kim A. Falinski, and Tamara Ticktin.

The researchers of the study focused on Fiji’s Kubulau District, where indigenous landowners are already taking action to manage their resources through a ridge-to-reef management plan.

Human activities on land often have cascading effects for marine ecosystems, and human-related impacts on Fiji are threatening more than 25 percent of the total global reef area. Expansion of commercial agriculture, logging, mining, and coastal development can harm coral reefs and their associated fisheries through increases in sediment and nutrient runoff. Consequent reef degradation directly affects food security, human wellbeing, and cultural practices in tropical island communities around the world.

To determine where management and conservation efforts would be most impactful, the researchers built a fine-scale, linked land and sea model that integrates existing land-use with coral reef condition and fish biomass. The team then simulated various future land-use and climate change scenarios to pinpoint areas in key watersheds where conservation would provide the most benefit to downstream coral reef systems. In every simulated scenario, coral reef impacts were minimized when native forest was protected or restored.

“The results of this study can be used by the village chiefs and the resource management committee in Kubulau to provide a geographic focus to their management actions”, said Dr. Sangeeta Mangubhai, Director of the WCS Fiji Country Program.

The methods also have applications far beyond Kubulau, particularly as many indigenous island communities are mobilizing to revitalize customary ridge to reef management systems and governments are becoming more interested in applying an integrated land-sea planning approach.

Dr. Jade Delevaux of the University of Hawai’i and lead author of the study said: “This novel tool relies on two freely available software packages and can be used in open access geographic information systems (GIS). As more and more remote sensing and bathymetry data become freely available to serve as data inputs, the model can serve even very data-poor regions around the world to allow for better management of linked land and sea areas.”

The model thus provides a platform for evidence-based decision making for ridge to reef management and lends confidence that directed terrestrial conservation actions can bolster reef resilience by minimizing damage from land-based runoff.

Dr. Stacy Jupiter, WCS Melanesia Regional Program Director, added: “The results provide hope because they demonstrate that resilience of coral reefs to global change can be promoted through local actions, thereby empowering local people to become better stewards over their resources.”

Even after being severely damaged by blast fishing and coral mining, coral reefs can be rehabilitated over large scales using a relatively inexpensive technique, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis, in partnership with Mars Symbioscience: here.

Coral reef discovery in Atlantic ocean


This 26 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Scientists Discover Giant Deep-Sea Coral Reef Off Atlantic Coast

This is a huge feature, Cordes said. It incredible that it stayed hidden off the U.S. East Coast for so long.

DEEP-SEA CORAL REEF FOUND IN ATLANTIC Scientists have discovered a giant deep-sea coral reef some 160 miles off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, and a half-mile below the ocean surface. [HuffPost]

This 1914 video says about itself:

More than 70 underwater canyons exist off the northeastern coast of the US, some more than three miles deep. In this video, journey to the deep and discover new species of deep-sea coral and more through the eye of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

New Caledonia’s coral reefs


This video says about itself:

New Caledonia: The Coral Garden | National Geographic

16 August 2018

In the summer of 2013, National Geographic‘s Pristine Seas team embarked on an expedition to New Caledonia. Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala led a team of scientists and filmmakers to explore the remote reefs and marine ecosystems. They discovered an abundance of underwater life. The team’s expedition and resulting scientific publications contributed to New Caledonia‘s 2018 decision to protect 28,000 km of pristine reefs.

Corals eating jellyfish, video


This 7 August 2018 video says about itself:

Corals Collaborating to Eat Jellyfish: First-Ever Video | National Geographic

Filmed for the first time, Astroides calycularis coral trap and devour “mauve stinger” jellyfish. In the western Mediterranean Sea, the orange coral forms colonies of small organisms called polyps. The polyps are connected, and together act as a single organism with multiple tiny mouths.

Coral reefs since the age of dinosaurs


This May 2018 video says about itself:

The Coral Reef: 10 Hours of Relaxing Oceanscapes | BBC Earth

Sit back, relax and enjoy the colourful world of coral reefs as we take you on a journey through some of the most vibrant parts of our blue planet with this 10 hour loop.

From Penn State university in the USA:

Diverse symbionts of reef corals have endured since ‘age of dinosaurs

August 9, 2018

Coral-algal partnerships have endured numerous climate change events in their long history, and at least some are likely to survive modern-day global warming as well, suggests an international team of scientists.

The team’s conclusion is based on the finding that the relationship between corals and the mutualistic micro-algae that enable them to build reefs is considerably older and more diverse than previously assumed.

“Past estimates placed the initiation of these symbiotic relationships at 50 to 65 million years ago“, said Todd LaJeunesse, associate professor of biology, Penn State. “Our research indicates that modern corals and their algal partners have been entwined with each other for much longer — since the time of the dinosaurs, approximately 160 million years ago. During their long existence, they have faced severe episodes of environmental change, but have managed to bounce back after each one.”

According to LaJeunesse, the micro-algae, commonly called zooxanthellae — of the dinoflagellate family Symbiodiniaceae — live inside the cells of corals, allowing them to acquire energy from sunlight and to build the massive, economically valuable reef formations upon which countless marine organisms rely for habitat.

“The fossil record shows that today’s reef-building corals exploded in diversity around 160 million years ago,” said LaJeunesse. “Finding that the origin of the algal symbionts corresponds to major increases in the abundance and diversity of reef-building corals implies that the partnership with Symbiodiniaceae was one of the major reasons for the success of modern corals.”

The team used genetic evidence — including DNA sequences, phylogenetic analyses and genome comparisons — to calculate the micro-algae’s approximate age of origin. They also used classical morphological techniques in which they compared visual characteristics of these symbionts using light and electron microscopy, along with computer modeling and other methods, to discover that in addition to being older, the algae family is far more diverse than previously perceived. The results appear online today (Aug. 9) in Current Biology.

“Presently, numerous algal lineages, called clades, are lumped into just one genus”, said John Parkinson, postdoctoral researcher, Oregon State University. “Using genetic techniques, we provide evidence that the family actually comprises at least 15 genera, including hundreds and possibly thousands of species worldwide.”

This is important, he explained, because some micro-algal symbionts have characteristics that make them more resilient to changes in the environment than other symbionts.

“The updated naming scheme offers a clear framework to identify different symbionts”, said Parkinson. “Accurate taxonomy (the identification and naming of species) is a critical step in any biological research. This is especially true for studies attempting to understand how the partnership between reef corals and their micro-algae, which are needed for survival and growth, may adapt to climate change. For example, when many corals are exposed to high temperatures they lose their symbiotic algae and die. Others are far more tolerant of heat, and some of this resilience is based on the species of algae they have.”

Parkinson noted that the team has been working for close to a decade to modernize coral symbiont taxonomy in order to improve communication among scientists and advance future research on reef corals.

“Until now, studies on the physiology and ecology of these algae attempted to compare apples to apples”, said Parkinson. “Considering how different some of them are, we now recognize that often we were comparing apples to oranges. These changes will help researchers to think more accurately about the comparisons they are making in experiments.”

Nocturnal coral fish eyes and brains studied


This 2015 video is called 3 HOURS of Beautiful Coral Reef Fish, Relaxing Ocean Fish, Aquarium Fish Tank & Relax Music 1080p HD.

From the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University in Japan:

Bigger eyes but reduced brain power in nocturnal fishes

July 24, 2018

Summary: How does living life in darkness influence the way nocturnal fishes see? A new study finds out.

Coral reefs buzz with activity around the clock. As the day-active fishes retreat at dusk, the night-active or nocturnal fishes venture out to forage and hunt. Equipped with special traits, these fishes are adapted to lead a life in darkness. So how do the dark surroundings influence the way they see?

An international team of scientists led by Dr. Teresa Iglesias and Prof. Evan Economo from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) set out to investigate this question. They examined how the brains of nocturnal fishes adapt to the low-light conditions they live in. Their findings were recently published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

The retina of the eye has on its surface two types of specialized nerve cells: cones and rods. While cones are activated in bright light, rods work better in dim light. The information captured by these cells is transported by nerves to the visual processing centers in the brain and pieced together into coherent images. In most vertebrates, a brain region called the optic tectum processes visual information, explains Prof. Economo. However, “it is unclear how it should change to maximize effectiveness of low-light vision”, he adds.

To find out, the research team compared the sizes of optic tecta within the brains of fishes that are active during the day and those active at night. More than a hundred fishes from nearly 66 different species were caught from reefs around Hawaii and North Carolina, USA. This catch comprising 44 day-active species and 16 nocturnal species with a wide range of food habits: some ate other fish, others fed on microscopic plankton, and still others were bottom dwelling scavengers. Once caught, the fishes were photographed and their heads preserved in formalin. Later in the lab, the researchers measured the size of each fish’s eye and lens, then scanned the animals’ preserved brains using micro CT scanners.

Bright environments are rich in visual information such as colors, patterns and textures, and deciphering them requires more complex processing than deciphering poorly-lit environments. Take photographs, for example: the latest camera can capture rich colors and minute details of a person or an object. On the other hand, the black and white photographs from an old family album do not reveal as much. Likewise, optic tectum in the brain must be able to process color, pattern and brightness.

The eyes of squirrelfish (Holocentrus rufus), a common nocturnal inhabitant of coral reefs, are almost three times larger than the eyes of day-active fishes of similar body size. Other nocturnal fishes also follow this design pattern. The optic tecta in nocturnal fishes might adapt to darkness by expanding, in order to process the larger volume of information that larger eyes might take in, or it could shrink if the information from low light environments is reduced. Initially, the researchers speculated that retina in such fishes would be loaded with more rods and cones than the day-active fishes, and thus require larger optic tecta to process it.

To their surprise, however, they found that the optic tecta of squirrelfish and other nocturnal fishes were smaller than those of day hunters, suggesting that their brains have sacrificed capabilities that are not as useful at night. Since color is not visible in light-deficient environments, these fishes have limited color acuity and limited depth of vision, but instead, they are adept at detecting movement.

The study also suggests that behavioral traits like the ability of some fishes to camouflage can influence the size of the optic tecta. Among the 66 species of fishes that the scientists sampled, the peacock flounder (Bothus mancus) was found to have the largest optic tectum amongst all. Peacock flounders dwell on sandy floors of reefs and are active during the day, though they prefer to hunt at night. Like chameleons, they are masters of camouflage, and can mimic their surroundings to blend in. This trait, according to the scientists, may explain why peacock flounders possess such highly-developed optic tecta. “Their visual centers may be important for adopting the correct camouflage, but they are also important for detecting predator movements in both bright and dim light”, says Dr. Iglesias.

We still have much to learn about how the environment and behavior of a species can shape the evolution of its brain, the scientists say. However, they believe these findings may help understand how changes in habitat due to human activities, such as light pollution, can interfere with the neuro-sensory capabilities of fishes and other organisms.