Rice Coral Spawning Success

After such disappointment with the Mushroom coral spawn, the Reef Recovery team was happy last weekend when by the non-light of the new moon, Montipora capitata, or rice coral spawned successfully.


A colony of Rice Coral, Montipora Capitata just off the dock at Coconut Island in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Photo by L. Grassman.

We were able to spawn these corals in floating pots in our outdoor tanks here on Coconut Island. The corals in the water around the island spawned heavily as well, so we collected egg/sperm bundles from both locations and were able to conduct our experiments.

Rice coral, like many corals around the world, release bundles of eggs and sperm packaged together. These bundles float up to the surface of the ocean where they break apart. They then have to find eggs or sperm from another colony, as they do not self-fertilize. For our work, this makes an added challenge as we have to break bundles apart ourselves to collect the sperm that is inside. If the bundles break too early, the sperm we need may end up too dilute for cryopreservation. Each step of our process has to be done at the right time and in a very particular manner to ensure that we are able to cryopreserve enough sperm. These rice coral here in Hawaii provide us with a unique opportunity to work out techniques like these before we head off to places like Belize, where we will be going in August, to work on endangered species there with similar egg/sperm bundle spawning strategies.

Check Out Our Work With SECORE

For the past several years, we have collaborated with SECORE to conduct coral reproduction workshops at spawning sites around the globe. These workshops have trained aquarists from zoos and aquaria around the world on how to raise coral larvae from larvae to adult corals. These workshops were also an opportunity for the aquarists, as well as community volunteers at the spawning sites to see the type of research that is going on to save corals, by seeing our cryopreservation work, as well as the work of other coral scientists collaborating with the SECORE group.

You can check out the weblogs of these workshops by clicking the link below:

SECORE Weblogs

There are links for several SECORE workshops that occurred in 2010, as well as a drop-down menu for workshops from 2005-2009.

Watch the SECORE website for information about workshops this year.

Mushroom Coral Love Was Not In the Air

With our crew assembled and colleagues visiting from Washington State, we patiently waited last Friday for our Fungia to spawn.

Close-up of Mushroom Coral Displaying Green Florescent Protein in its Tentacles - Photo by V. Carter



Fungia scutaria, or mushroom coral have been kept in water tables out here at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology for many many years. Several research groups here work on them, and they usually spawn like clockwork a couple days after the full moon around 6pm for a few nights from May through September.

This month, however, their spawning was quite poor. We only saw light spawning from several males and just 3 females on one night. Other groups on the island reported no spawning at all from their mushroom corals. This was very disappointing for us, as well as for our visiting colleagues.

Many factors could have resulted in the lack of spawning, but we cannot say for certain what caused this. We have been having an unusually cool and rainy summer here in Hawaii which may have contributed, but there is no way to know for sure. Other factors from more global impacts may play a role as well.

As spawning of corals may be coming less predictable, the need for live and frozen banks of coral genetic material grows more pressing. While mushroom coral here in Hawaii will have several more times this summer to attempt to spawn, many species around the world only spawn once per year. Last year, a trip we had scheduled to bank two endangered coral species in Belize was canceled because rising ocean temperatures caused the corals to spawn a month early resulting in our trip being scheduled a month too late. As corals become more threatened around the world, we can only expect to see more non-typical, or even non-existent spawning events.

As for our mushroom corals here, we’ll keep our fingers crossed for their July spawn.

IPSO reports mass ocean extinction within generations

On Tuesday, June 21, 2011, Reuters published a study led by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) regarding mass extinctions in the world’s oceans.

 

The study reports on mass extinctions within a generation, and includes information about the collapsing of coral reefs and the spread of low-oxygen “dead zones”.

 

“We now face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation,” according to the study by 27 experts to be presented to the United Nations.

 

A video report and article from ABC News can be found here:

Impending Disaster: Marine Species Face Mass Extinction, Experts Say

Full Site Coming Soon

Reef Recovery Initiative is actively working to conserve and preserve the World’s coral reefs.  Our lives depend on the health of these reefs.  Watch this space for more info.

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