Live rock has always been a controversial topic within the aquarium hobby. Rock harvested from oceanic reefs has been a staple for reef enthusiasts for many years. It’s hard to replicate the look of a coral reef in a closed environment without the use of natural live rock. The problem is, it takes a lot longer for the live rock beds to recover than it does for dealers to harvest it. Removing natural rock reduces the amount of locations for new corals to settle and develop, so collection threatens the existing coral reefs as corals have less suitable area to colonize. Read More »
Tag Archives: coral reefFeed Subscription
Many stories have come to light through recent years discussing the plight of coral reefs around the world; overfishing, destructive collecting methods, pollution, and ship traffic damage have taken a serious toll. A number of new studies show that an even greater threat has emerged in 2010, extreme water temperatures.
Earlier this year, the region of Indo-pacific reefs known as the Coral Triangle (a roughly triangular area that encompasses Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste) endured record surface water temperatures. These extreme water temperatures caused a mass coral bleaching event that may prove to be the worst on record. Read More »
With this weeks passing of Earth Day 2008, I thought I would write a blog about this great article that I had read recently on www.sciencedaily.com. Some of the darkest days in U.S history involve the nuclear weapons use and testing during and after WWII. Most people learned about the bombs dropped on Japan during WWII in history class, or from family members who lived in that era.
Much less well known nuclear testing was done in the years following WWII as the cold war escalated, and the demand for bigger and bigger bombs grew. From 1946 to 1958 the U.S. Government conducted nuclear bomb tests on the remote Pacific Island Group of Bikini Atoll, which is part of the Marshall Islands. In 1954 the U.S. detonated, what was at the time, the largest hydrogen bomb ever tested. The bomb was code named Castle Bravo, and was 15 megatons (1,000 times more powerful that the bomb dropped on Hiroshima). The blast vaporized 3 islands, raised the water temperature to 55,000 degrees, and left a crater that was over a mile wide and more that 200 feet deep. Needless to say, there was nothing left of what was a thriving tropical island group and surrounding reefs.
Enough of the bad news, this story has a happy ending. Recently a group of international scientists returned to Bikini Atoll to see what was there, almost 50 years later. Plant life on the surface had returned, but is still contaminated with radiation (don’t eat the coconuts). What the group found underwater was truly amazing. As they planned their dive into the Bravo Crater, expectations were running wild. The last time the area was surveyed it looked like part of the moon, and was irradiated.
What they found was a thriving coral reef ecosystem that had completely self seeded itself in the once barren wasteland. Porites corals that reached 25ft in the water, huge formations that looked like trees reaching for the surface. The belief is that water currents from untouched neighboring areas brought larval corals to Bikini, where they settled and matured. The corals had recolonized as much as 80% of the habitat in some of the areas studied.
Compared to studies performed at Bikini prior to the testing, the results show that there has been a serious impact on the diversity of corals to the area. The new study showed that 40 species that were documented to have been there prior to testing, where no longer there, and appear to be locally extinct. I found it amazing that what was there had reclaimed space that had felt the worst of what human kind can offer.
This news shows that, given the chance, reefs can recover from even the most severe destruction. Maybe by looking at the species that are thriving in the Bravo Crater, we can use them to as a guide to recolonizing reefs that have been destroyed by shipping, fishing, and pollution around the world. The main thing that I took from the story is that if we as a society can get our act together as far as protecting our natural resources, that Mother Nature can fight back pretty hard if we let her.
Until Next Blog,
That Fish Blog is proud to introduce our first guest blogger; Melissa Leiter. Melissa is one of our staff Marine Biologists, as well as being an avid aquarium hobbyist. Melissa is also a Fish Room Supervisor in our Lancaster, PA retail store.
If you are looking for a one of a kind vacation and are scuba certified, Roatan, Honduras is a place you really should consider. I had the opportunity to take a summer class offered through Millersville University in Roatan, Honduras. It was a very intense 3 week class but I learned so much and had a blast all at the same time. It was really nice to be able to see many of the fish that we sell at That Fish Place in their natural environment swimming around so gracefully.
The corals themselves were an amazing sight to see. The reef structure in itself was more than I could have ever imagined. We did many dives to observe the reef, paying close attention to detail so that we would be able to identify a variety of corals learning their common name as well as scientific name.
We had the opportunity to do two night dives to observe the night life on the reef. We descended into the warm darkness right around sunset. The reef is a totally different world when surrounded by darkness. Stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride could be seen in a mucous cocoon and most of the fish that were out and about during the day were totally out of sight, hidden in crevices for protection from the creatures that roam in the night. Octopus and cuttlefish were out scouring for food as well as large spiny lobsters and spider crabs. Basket stars, Astrophyton muricatum, were also abundant with their arms outstretched collecting plankton as it drifted by. At random times throughout our night dives we took a few minutes to “feed the corals” where we held our dive lights to a coral and all the plankton swarmed to the light and became coral food. The pillar coral, Dendrogyra cylindrus was a favorite to feed with its polyps extending and retracting continuously.
One of the last things we did before our ascent to the surface was to gather together on the sandy bottom and turned out our lights for a few minutes. Once our eyes adjusted to the darkness the bioluminescence came into view. If you waved your arms that was enough to agitate the critters that store the bioluminescence and you could see a faint light coming out of the pitch black . Another spectacular sight were “string of pearls”. “String of pearls” are ostracods, which are tiny crustaceans that are scurrying about. These tiny crustations attract mates along the same lines as fireflies do flashing their bioluminenscence, each species with a slightly different pattern. They lit up the dark with flashes of light all strung together like fireflies dancing through the sky.
While my diving at the reef has come to an end for this trip the memories I have gathered will remain with me for many years to come. Maybe if more people we able to see the reef first hand they would want to do all they could to save it for future generations. The ocean truly is a world of its own.