Starfish communication

Scientists have “cracked the code” of crown-of-thorns starfish communication.

For the first time, we are able to better understand the critical importance of the chemical communication that drives crown-of-thorns behaviour, providing excellent leads in the development of biocontrol technologies.

The paper ‘The crown-of-thorns starfish genome as a guide for biocontrol of this coral reef pest’ appeared online last month in the journal Nature. Click here to learn more:

Coral bleaching explained.

Mass bleaching events of unprecedented scales are being experienced right around the world. But what exactly is bleaching, and why is this such a concern?

Corals and algae form the base of ocean food webs and provide homes and nursery grounds to many species of fish. In fact, one third of all saltwater fish species live at least part of their lives on coral reefs. An estimated one billion people have some dependence on coral reefs for food and income from fishing.

Humans can help, particularly by setting up marine protected areas – underwater national parks – where fishing is forbidden. Not only do they allow local reefs a chance to recover, but they can seed nearby areas with coral larvae.

But in the end, the fate of coral reefs comes down to global warming. The sooner we get to managing reefs well, the better condition they will be in, and therefore better able to cope with the warming. We can act quickly on the local impacts to give them breathing space while we work hard at building global agreements and bring down CO2 emissions.

Please share this video to help spread the word about the severity of this global issue.

Waste discharge in The Maldives

Alarming footage of sewage waste being directly released onto shallow coral reefs in The Maldives.

 

Discharge of raw, untreated sewage into the marine environment causes nutrient enrichment, algal blooms, deoxygenation and human health problems. Such conditions adversely affect coral growth and promote crown of thorns outbreaks.

Because sewage discharge proximal to sensitive coral reefs is widespread across the tropics, it is imperative for coral reef-focused institutions to increase investment in threat-abatement strategies for mitigating sewage pollution.

Anemone spawning

 

Sea anemones reproduce both asexually and sexually. Asexual reproduction involves ‘budding off’ to form a large colony of genetically identical individuals. Sexual reproduction involves broadcast spawning, where fertilization takes place in the water. The resulting larvae then swim around in the plankton until they find a suitable place to settle, at which time they metamorphose into a young anemone.