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#199721 - 08/19/06 07:40 AM Test-Tube Coral Babies May Mend Reefs
tacogirl Offline
A friend of mine sent me this and I thought it was worth posting.

The full moon was on the ninth, our anemone is on cue. Corals all spawn at the same time, including those in aquaria (northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere are on opposite cycles ie. Meso-American Reef compared to Great Barrier Reef). This article is a hopeful look at what marine science can do to help with global reef problems.

Test-Tube Coral Babies May Mend Reefs
August 17, 2006 — By Associated Press

KEY LARGO, Fla. — Marine scientists hope "test-tube coral babies" will take root to help restore a tract of reef ravaged by a 1984 ship grounding in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. A team of University of Miami marine science researchers is collecting coral eggs and sperm all this week during an annual reproductive ritual, dubbed coral spawning.

Looking like an upside-down, underwater snowstorm, most corals in the Keys, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean release eggs and sperm into the water a few days after the full moon in August. In the wild, eggs and sperm randomly mix and fertilize to become larvae. Some take root to become foundation blocks for new coral.

Researchers led by Margaret Miller, an ecologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service, gather spawn in cone-shaped, tent collectors anchored over portions of the coral reef off Key Largo. The spawn is blended in jars and the portion that fertilizes is transported to a field laboratory. "From that stage, we hope we have embryos," Miller said. "It's a fairly labor-intensive process over several days of siphoning off waste products and providing them fresh sea water for a week."

Beginning this weekend, Miller's team plans to take the larvae to the site of the M/V Wellwood, a 400-foot freighter that ran aground on Molasses Reef off Key Largo Aug. 4, 1984. The grounding destroyed nearly all corals in an area totaling about 5,000 square feet. Using funds from fines paid by the ship's owners, much of the site was restored structurally in 2002, but there has not been evidence of hard coral growth. Researchers will install fine mesh enclosure tents around limestone-based, artificial reefs and place free-swimming larvae inside. Miller hopes the larvae will attach to the reefs and mature into polyps, initial building blocks for a coral colony.

Even though coral maturation is extremely slow, growing anywhere from a third of an inch to less then four inches each year, success of the project could eventually mean hope for declining coral reefs around the world, said Miller, adding that currently there is a high mortality rate for lab-produced coral larvae. "There's millions and millions of eggs even our team (off Key Largo) is able to collect," she said. "If we can learn how to enhance the survivorship of larvae to settle and become new corals on reefs that is huge potential."
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#199722 - 08/21/06 07:54 AM Re: Test-Tube Coral Babies May Mend Reefs
PalapaBob Offline
I've already told you more than I know.

#199723 - 08/21/06 08:35 AM Re: Test-Tube Coral Babies May Mend Reefs
Bobber Offline
Can you specify what kind of coral you want? For instance:


I can't be the only one making this connection, can I?
Been there, done that, the washing machine ate the T-shirt

#199724 - 08/21/06 04:32 PM Re: Test-Tube Coral Babies May Mend Reefs
divingcowgirl Offline
squat tag on the coral reef?
Take the road less traveled

#199725 - 08/21/06 05:24 PM Re: Test-Tube Coral Babies May Mend Reefs
San Pedro Daily Offline
Careful where you squat!!!

#199726 - 08/24/06 07:57 AM Re: Test-Tube Coral Babies May Mend Reefs
tacogirl Offline
August 23, 2006 — By Mat Probasco, Associated Press

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands — Scientists issued a warning Tuesday that temperatures in the Caribbean Sea were abnormally high and approaching levels that could be disastrous for coral reefs -- many of which suffered unprecedented die-offs last year due to hot waters. Sea temperatures around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands reached about 83.66 degrees Fahrenheit (28.7 degrees Celsius) -- 3.36 degrees Fahrenheit (0.2 degrees Celsius) warmer than their annual average high, which normally occurs in September or October, said Al Strong, a scientist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coral Reef Watch.

NOAA alerted scuba-dive operators and underwater researchers in the U.S. Caribbean territories to look for coral damage and to be careful around the reefs, which are easily damaged by physical contact, Strong told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Maryland. The agency issued a warning that is in effect until the waters cool off. Researchers fear hot summer temperatures could be disastrous for reefs recovering from widespread damage last year, when up to 40 percent of coral died in abnormally warm seas around the U.S. Virgin Islands. Scientists have not pinpointed what is behind the warm sea temperatures but some speculate global warming might be the cause.

High sea temperatures stress coral, making the fragile undersea life more susceptible to disease and premature death. A building block for undersea life, the coral reefs are a sheltered habitat for fish, lobsters and other animals to feed and breed. Prolonged bleaching -- when the water temperature gets so high that it kills the algae that populate and build the reefs -- kills coral. Tropical Storm Chris, which passed through the region in early August, helped to briefly cool the seas, Strong said.

Despite being the second coral warning this year -- the first was released in July -- Strong said it wasn't as bad as last year, when sea temperatures topped 86.36 Fahrenheit (30.2 degrees Celsius) in Puerto Rico -- the highest levels in the territories in the last five years, Strong said. Millions of people visit the Caribbean each year to dive and snorkel over the region's coral reefs, part of a multibillion-dollar tourism industry.
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