Recently the UN Environment Programme Report on coral bleaching projections for 2020 was published, updating work that was done in 2017 using a previous generation of global climate models to project coral reef bleaching globally. The report shows some interesting new results. Ruben van Hooidonk, a coral researcher at AOML and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, was the lead author of the report.
Two Bacteria Types Linked With Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Hint At How This Deadly Disease Might Spread
New research on stony coral tissue loss disease reveals similar “bacterial signatures” among sick corals and nearby water and sediments for the first time. Results hint at how this deadly disease might spread, and which bacteria are associated with it, on Florida’s Coral Reef.
AOML coral ecologist, Ian Enochs, was recently awarded with the Department of Commerce Silver Medal Award for his leadership in developing and implementing the Sub-Surface Automated Sampler (SAS). The DOC Silver Medal is awarded to federal employees for exceptional performance characterized by noteworthy contributions which have a direct and lasting impact.
A new study by coral researchers from the University of Miami’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) and NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory suggests that the physical oceanographic habitat characteristics-such as, temperature, light availability, and water flow, of corals, may influence microbe communities and health of coral reefs. The results showed a link between physical habitat and coral microbiology in coral reefs in southeast Florida.
Last week AOML and CIMAS coral researchers, Graham Kolodziej, Anderson Mayfield, and Derek Manzello, entered the ocean off of the Upper Florida Keys to collect tiny floating balls being released from the protected mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata). Taking place shortly after moonrise, the spawning process is a visually beautiful part of the circle of life for corals, releasing gametes into the ocean water to become fertilized and eventually settle to create new corals stony coral colonies.
AOML researchers have taken an innovative approach to studying the changing carbonate chemistry of seawater at shallow coral reef sites. Using 3D printing technology made possible by the new Advanced Manufacturing and Design Lab at AOML, researchers with the Acidification, Climate, and Coral Reef Ecosystems Team, or ACCRETE, have created a water sampler in-house.
A recent study by AOML and partners identified coral communities at Cheeca Rocks in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary that appear to be more resilient than other nearby reefs to coral bleaching after back to back record breaking hot summers in 2014 and 2015 and increasingly warmer waters. This local case study provides a small, tempered degree of optimism that some Caribbean coral communities may be able to acclimate to warming waters.
Coral scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) are in the process of analyzing data that may shed light on the sub-lethal effects of sedimentation stress in coral larvae. Scientists recently conducted a series of lab experiments aimed at assessing the effects of Port of Miami dredge sediments on the larval performance of the Caribbean threatened coral Orbicella faveolata (also known as the mountainous star coral). Preliminary analysis suggests significant effects of sedimentation on both the survival and settlement of coral larvae.
Scientists found that microbes and their genetic material from land-based sources of pollution could be found in reef water and in tissues of corals. This could affect the genomics of the native microbial communities found in coral reefs, which can impact how corals thrive and survive. These new insights highlight an additional potential threat to corals from land-based sources of pollution in southeast Florida, where corals are already under existential threat from warming oceans and resulting coral bleaching, disease and mortality.
Coral scientists recently traveled to the Galapagos Islands to document coral reef health following the 2016-17 El Niño Southern Oscillation event (ENSO), which bathed the region in abnormally warm waters. Historically, these events have triggered coral bleaching and large-scale mortality, as seen in response to ENSO events of 1982-83 and 1997-98. Interestingly, these same reefs exhibited minimal bleaching in response to this most recent event. Scientists are determining whether this response is due to differing levels of heat stress, or an increased tolerance to warm water in the remnant coral communities.