Trying to predict how coral reefs will respond to warming oceans and a changing climate may be considered a daunting task for scientists. In the face of this challenge, scientists at AOML recently published a study that characterizes the organisms and processes that lead to coral reef accretion (build up) and bioerosion (break down) in the dynamic environments of the Gulf of Panama and Gulf of Chiriqui in the eastern Pacific.
When we look at the state of corals globally, it can be difficult to see a silver lining, but a recent paper published in Frontiers in Marine Science shows hope for corals in unlikely places. In the study, scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science compared the molecular processes of brain corals (Pseudodiploria strigosa) living in urban waters at the Port of Miami with offshore corals at Emerald Reef. They found the urban corals had adapted to challenging conditions that helped them differentiate and consume healthy food particles over diseased organisms.
It can be hard to stay upbeat as a marine biologist, especially with the onslaught of existential threats like climate change facing the planet. Coral reefs are arguably the ecosystem that stands to lose the most with respect to climate change, namely because the resident organisms are highly sensitive to elevated temperatures. Furthermore, the limestone-based reef framework itself is diminishing before our eyes due to the accompanying rise in carbon dioxide levels (which decreases oceanic pH, leading to ocean acidification). That being said, there are corals out there that display resilience, continuing to thrive in habitats that would appear decidedly marginalized to even the untrained eye.
Coral scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) will be presenting their research at the 14th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) from July 19-23, 2021, which will be held virtually for the first time in the history of the ICRS.
A recent study by researchers at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory shows that coral growth observed in symmetrical brain corals (Pseudodiploria strigosa) and mountainous star corals (Orbicella faveolata) in the Flower Garden Banks reefs, in the Gulf of Mexico, are linked to warming sea surface temperatures.
A new study by researchers at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory suggests that outplanting corals, specifically staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) from higher temperature waters to cooler waters, may be a better strategy to help corals recover from certain stressors. The researchers found that corals from reefs with higher average water temperatures showed greater healing than corals from cooler waters when exposed to heat stress.
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.
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.
NOAA and partners have launched a new buoy in Fagatele Bay within NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa to measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the waters around a vibrant tropical coral reef ecosystem. “This new monitoring effort in a remote area of the Pacific Ocean will not only advance our understanding of changing ocean chemistry in this valuable and vibrant coral ecosystem but will also help us communicate these changes to diverse stakeholders in the Pacific Islands and across the United States,” said Derek Manzello, coral ecologist with NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.