15 September 2010

Hot Summer Nights on the Reef

M. faveolata colonies tented in anticipation of the annual mass coral spawning event

Once again, Dr. Mary Alice Coffroth, from the State University of New York at Buffalo, staged her coral spawning research out of KML. Coordinating an army of 30 AAUS divers and snorkelers from multiple institutions, researchers assembled out at Looe Key Reef for the anticipated Acropora palmatta (elkhorn) spawning after the August full moon (Aug 25-28). But no luck this year!

Divers placing mesh nets over coral heads prior to spawning

Meanwhile, another team of divers traveled each evening to Cheeca Rocks on KML's R/V Diodon to capture the Montastrea faveolata (mountainous star coral) spawning event Aug 27- Sept 1. Success! The spawn was brought back to KML's Wet Lab and reared in special chambers of circulating filtered seawater, until ready to settle on ceramic tiles.

First coral rearing Kreisel is up and running!

Coral rearing activities in KML's Wet Lab

The new coral recruits will be used in various experiments to study algal symbiont uptake and selectivity both in the field and at the University of Miami coral nursery.

Divers setting out tiles with newly-settled coral recruits
Spectacular sunset from Cheeca Rocks

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