Octopus camouflage on coral reef, video


This video says about itself:

Amazing moment marine creature camouflages itself against a reef is captured on video

4 February 2015

Octopus shocks diver with its amazing camouflage skills

A diver was shocked to see an octopus emerge from the rocks during a dive in the Caribbean. Its amazing camouflage abilities meant it was barely visible before revealing itself.

Spot the octopus!

A new study has found that La Niña-like conditions – cooler sea temperatures, greater precipitation and stronger upwelling – in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Panamá were closely associated with an abrupt shutdown in coral reef growth that lasted 2,500 years: here.

Will triton snails save Australia’s Great Barrier Reef?


This video from Hawaii is about a triton snail at Lanai lookout in Oahu eating a crown of thorns starfish.

From Wildlife Extra:

Giant snail the solution to Barrier Reef’s Crown-of-thorns problem?

Beautiful as it may be, the Crown-of-thorns Starfish has had a devastating effect on parts of the Great Barrier Reef

Good news for Australia in the battle to save delicate coral organisms on the Great Barrier Reef from annihilation by the rapidly multiplying and invasive Crown-of-thorns Starfish.

Scientists have discovered that the scent of the Triton Sea Snail is repellent to the giant starfish.

The Crown-of-thorns has been responsible for 40 per cent of coral cover loss on the Great Barrier Reef in the past 30 years.

University of the Sunshine Coast senior lecturer Scott Cummins says they have learned that the Triton Snail is one of the starfish’s natural predators.

“We put [the snail] next to the Crown-of-thorns Starfish and they reacted quite obviously,” he says.

“They started to run away, which is quite an important finding because it tells us they do have very poor eyesight, so they are sensing or smelling their main predator.”

At the moment, in an effort to save the reefs, divers search for the starfish and administer a lethal injection which was developed by James Cook University, but this is very costly an labour intensive. This new discovery may provide the long-term answer to the problem.

“The snail is releasing a complex mixture of molecules,” explains Cummins. “We want to narrow it down to exactly what the molecule is then hopefully we can take that and put it into some slow release system on the reef.”

Australian Institute of Marine Science researcher Dr Mike Hall says the decline of the giant Triton Snail, prized for its beautiful shell, might have partially contributed to the population explosion in Crown-of-thorns Starfish that has had such a devastating effect.

The snail has been protected in Australia since the 1960s but it is still extremely rare on the Great Barrier Reef.

One should hope that triton snails will also help against another threat to the Great Barrier Reef: the disastrous environmental policies of Tony Abbott’s government in Australia.

Seven ways the Australian government in totally screwing up the environment: here.

Cayman islands coral reef news


This video says about itself:

13 December 2012

Central Caribbean Marine Institute Research Divers on a scientific dive during a rainstorm; on this dive we were lucky enough to spot some juvenile squid under out boat when we returned to it. Divers are surveying Elkhorn Corals in Little Cayman, Cayman Islands, British West Indies. We are between 50′ and 60′. The dive site is called Bus Stop and we are underneath a live-aboard boat of the Aggressor Fleet in Jackson’s Bay inside the world famous Bloody Bay Marine Park. This is what we do everyday on Little Cayman.

Little Cayman is considered one of the best dive destinations in the world. We have the most pristine Coral Reef Ecosystems in the Caribbean and one of the best in the World. Researchers and scientists come from all over the world to Little Cayman to get a base reading to compare the health of their reefs back home to. This is what we do everyday on Little Cayman.

Please Visit our website at www.reefresearch.org to learn more about us.

From the Cayman Compass:

Scientists explore secret of Little Cayman’s coral reef success

By: James Whittaker

30 December, 2014

What is so special about Little Cayman’s reefs? That’s the question a new $140,000 scientific study at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute will seek to answer.

Scientists want to determine why reefs around the remote island are thriving and whether there are lessons that can be adapted to help protect and maintain vital coral reef systems around the world.

The new study will look specifically at rare and endangered coral species around Little Cayman and attempt to determine why they are bucking a trend of widespread decline in coral reefs across the Caribbean.

An earlier study by CCMI showed that coral cover had been increasing around Little Cayman over the past five years.

The new project will focus specifically on evolutionary distinct and globally endangered species known as edge corals.

Dr. Kristi Foster, CCMI’s assistant director of research, said the aim is to determine the specific conditions present in Little Cayman that allow such corals to be more resilient to the threats facing reefs around the region.

“While elsewhere in the Caribbean reefs are in a state of decline, we are actually seeing an increase in coral cover. There is something special about our system here in Little Cayman,” she said.

“We are going to try to look at where we have hot spots of these edge corals and try to determine the environmental conditions that might explain why they are thriving.”

The study is partly funded through a $70,000 grant awarded by the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with the money coming from Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

Researchers will conduct snorkel studies around Little Cayman’s reefs, and scientists will combine the results of those surveys with temperature and atmospheric data.

The researchers will also consider Little Cayman’s relative isolation and how its small population and relative protection from overfishing and coastal pollution have affected its corals.

“The idea is that this project will help us develop a ranking system to identify which areas need higher protection, for example through Marine Protected Areas.”

She said the research could be adapted to help put protection plans in place for vulnerable reef systems in other parts of the world.

She said scientists working on the study, titled “Enhancing Capacity for Coral Reef Resilience Management in the Cayman Islands,” have already located several previously unrecorded pillar coral colonies and more than 50 colonies of staghorn and elkhorn corals.

She added, “This grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation enables us to compare the abundance and health of at-risk coral species to the habitats and environmental conditions where they thrive.

“As we learn more about the resilience of Cayman corals to bleaching, disease outbreaks, and other climate-related disturbances, we can improve ecosystem-based management and conservation.”

A deadly combination of changing ocean conditions are threatening the survival of coral reefs, new research from scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in the USA, shows: here.

Scientists reveal which coral reefs can survive global warming: here.

Giving dead reefs new life with fast-growing corals: here.

Coral discovery off Florida


This 2011 video from Florida is called Deep Water Coral Reefs: Oases of the Ocean: Recent Discoveries and Conservation.

From the Sun Sentinel in the USA:

Forests of rare coral discovered off South Florida

By David Fleshler

December 29 2014

A surprise discovery along the South Florida coast has revealed dense thickets of a species of coral thought to be disappearing from the region’s reefs.

More than 38 acres of staghorn coral has been found in patches on the reefs from northern Miami-Dade to northern Broward counties, in what scientists call a rare piece of good news for a species that has sustained severe declines, largely due to disease.

“This is a huge win for Florida’s corals,” said Joanna Walczak, southeast regional administrator for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection‘s Florida coastal office.

Staghorn coral, which extends delicate branches up from the ocean floor, is among the most important coral species for its ability to build reefs, creating habitat for fish and other marine creatures and providing a natural wave-break that protects the coast.

The dense patches of the federally protected coral, discovered through dives and the analysis of aerial surveys, run from the area off Golden Beach through Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Although many of the coral concentrations lie far from shore, some are accessible to divers.

A scientist from Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center found the coral while doing a survey for the environmental agency, which wanted a better map of shallow reef system.

“This was an unexpected result of a project that was intended to improve our knowledge of the types and locations of near-shore reef habitats in southeast Florida,” said Brian Walker, research scientist at Nova’s National Coral Reef Institute, who conducted the study.

The northern limit for the species is roughly around Boca Raton, but in the past, it was densest in the Florida Keys. The species has been disappearing there, however, battered by a variety of problems, including coral bleaching and white-band disease.

Global warming contributed to the decline, with higher water temperatures touching off more frequent incidents of bleaching. That occurs when corals expel the algae on which they depend for energy, making them more vulnerable to disease, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Ironically, that same warming may have made the water temperatures of Miami-Dade and Broward counties more hospitable for the species.

“Some have speculated that climate change might have contributed,” Walker said.

The department of environmental protection wanted a better map of the coral’s locations to improve the management of beach-widening, coastal development and other activities that could harm corals, as well as improve responses to incidents such as oil spills and illegal boat anchoring.

Along the Fort Lauderdale coast, a patch was found about 325 yards off Northeast 18th Street, another about 430 yards off Vista Park and one about 325 yards off the north end of the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel, where A1A splits. Another patch stands about 540 yards off the center of John U. Lloyd Beach State Park. It is illegal to touch the coral.

When he dove the sites, Walker saw a variety of marine creatures swimming and creeping around the corals. He saw reef croakers, fireworms and sea hares (a type of mollusk named for two earlike appendages). He saw threespot damselfish, which cultivate algae gardens on the corals by weeding out the algae species they don’t plan to eat.

Walczak, of the environmental protection department, said her office has begun putting more effort into studying the reefs north of Biscayne National Park, and “it amazes me that we’re still finding new and exciting discoveries.”

Giant clams in coral reefs, new research


This video says about itself:

Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Giant Clams

8 September 2008

Giant clams are no myth. In New England, people love clam chowder, but in the Pacific, some of the clams are as big as a suitcase! On an expedition to Micronesia, Jonathan goes in search of Giant Clams. These clams are so big that people used to think they caught people–and it almost looks like they could. It turns out that the problem is too many people eating the clams.

From Biological Conservation journal:

The ecological significance of giant clams in coral reef ecosystems

Highlights

• We review the ecological importance of giant clams on coral reefs.
• Giant clams can contribute to reefs: (1) as food, (2) as shelter, and (3) as reef builders and shapers.
• Understanding the ecological roles of giant clams reinforces the case for their conservation.

Abstract

Giant clams (Hippopus and Tridacna species) are thought to play various ecological roles in coral reef ecosystems, but most of these have not previously been quantified. Using data from the literature and our own studies we elucidate the ecological functions of giant clams. We show how their tissues are food for a wide array of predators and scavengers, while their discharges of live zooxanthellae, faeces, and gametes are eaten by opportunistic feeders.

The shells of giant clams provide substrate for colonization by epibionts, while commensal and ectoparasitic organisms live within their mantle cavities. Giant clams increase the topographic heterogeneity of the reef, act as reservoirs of zooxanthellae (Symbiodinium spp.), and also potentially counteract eutrophication via water filtering. Finally, dense populations of giant clams produce large quantities of calcium carbonate shell material that are eventually incorporated into the reef framework. Unfortunately, giant clams are under great pressure from overfishing and extirpations are likely to be detrimental to coral reefs. A greater understanding of the numerous contributions giant clams provide will reinforce the case for their conservation.

New coral, shark discoveries in California


This video from the USA is called Habitat Exploration: Deep-Sea Corals.

From Wildlife Extra:

New coral species discovered off the coast of California

Scientists on a mission led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have made new discovers in waters off California’s coast, including a new species of deep sea coral and a nursery area used by both catsharks and skates.

The research was a result of the first intensive exploration of the areas north of Bodega Head, which took place in September 2014 aboard NOAA’s R/V Fulmar. The team of scientists focused on two main sites: the head waters of Bodega Canyon, and an area known as ‘the Football’ west of Salmon Creek and north of the canyon, so-named for its oval shape.

While investigating in these areas, the researchers discovered a new species of deep sea coral, and a nursery area for both catsharks and skates located in the underwater canyons close to the Gulf of Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries off Sonoma coast.

The team of scientists undertook multiple dives during which they made the discovery of hundreds of skate egg cases on the sea floor, and in bundles on rocks surrounding a catshark nursery area.

Commenting on this finding, deep sea biologist at NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science Peter Etnoyer said: “This is a highly unusual nursery because rarely, if ever, are shark nurseries in the same area as skate nurseries.”

The significant discovery of the new coral species was made by the second team to embark on the mission, led by California Academy of Sciences’ Gary Williams. His team found corals at around 600 feet deep and confirmed them to be a new species of deep sea coral. “Deep-sea corals and sponges provide valuable refuge for fish and other marine life,” said Maria Brown, Farallones sanctuary superintendent. “Data on these life forms helps determine the extent and ecological importance of deep sea communities and the threats they face. Effective management of these ecosystems requires science-based information on their condition.”

The mission was also significant for being the first time that video surveys were recorded in the area. Previously this region had only been documented through sonar imaging.

“The video surveys from this research mission verified the extent of rocky habitat estimated from sonar data collected several years ago, and the quality of rocky habitat in some areas exceeded expectations.” says US Geological Survey geophysicist Guy Cochrane.

The scientists used small submersibles in their investigations along with other innovate technologies, documenting the marine life that has adapted to survive in offshore waters reaching depths of 1000 feet by filming and photographing it. Prior to this research, scientists knew little about these areas except they were thought to contain nutrient-rich and biologically diverse marine life.

“Surveys of the seafloor in these waters reveal an abundance and diversity of life in new habitats,” commented Danielle Lipski of the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. “This work helps inform our knowledge and understanding of the deep sea ecosystems north of Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuaries, areas that are extremely important to the ocean environment.”

North Sea coral discovery


This video from Britain says about itself:

26 May 2014

Join us on a simulated journey through the undersea landscapes of the south west of England from Ilfracombe to delicate pink sea fans in Lyme Bay via Chesil Beach and Berry Head. Common cuttlefish, hermit crab, bootlace seaweed and long snouted sea horse can be found here. Watch plaice send a hermit crab packing before approaching The Lizard’s thick carpets of jewel anenomes, dead man’s fingers and Devonshire cup coral. As we reach the Atlantic we come across sun fish, lion’s mane jellyfish, basking sharks and bottle-nosed dolphins before surfacing at Ilfracombe in Devon. Grey seals swim along corkwing wrasse, ballan wrasse and swimming crabs all searching for food amongst sponges.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands, 16 September 2014:

During a 10-day diving expedition in the North Sea there were a number of discoveries in ancient sunken ships. The rare polychaete worm Sabellaria [spinulosa] was found for example. But the most remarkable find was a piece of Devonshire cup-coral. Although this species lives occasionally near the English east coast, it was the first time that hard coral was found in the middle of the North Sea.