Saturday, September 12, 2009

The new recruits continue to grow

Now that the new coral recruits are taking up the algal symbionts, our next step is to sample these corals and determine the type of symbionts that they are initially acquiring. Our goal is to determine if these are the same types of symbionts that the adult corals harbor and if not, to ascertain (1) when the assemblage that is found within the adult is established and (2) what is the basis for the type of symbiont that the the coral acquires doing its ontogeny. Here are photos taken by the staff at the UM Hatchery while they were doing the first sampling of the recruits. As you can see - the recruits look great!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

And the recruits are infected!!!

We just received word today that the M. faveolata recruits that we left at the Univ. of Miami Experimental Hatchery (see below) have acquired algal symbionts. In this species, as with most hard corals, the newly settled coral acquire its symbionts anew each generation. Our next step will be to sample these corals to determine what symbiont type that they initially take up - which is one of the goals of this study.

Three week old recruit with algal symbionts - note the greenish-brown specs in the tentacles

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The remaining recruits are returned to the field

Although we have high hopes of rearing the coral recruits at the Miami Hatchery, we are also experimenting with techniques to rear them in the field. Together with the staff of the Keys Marine Lab (Cindy Lewis and Andrew Crowder), a frame was installed on the reef to hold a series of our settlement tiles.

Cindy Lewis and Mary Alice Coffroth pounding in the rebar to anchor the frame in place.

Positioning the settlement tiles with new recruits in the frame

The frame completed and in place

Friday, August 28, 2009

Up close and personal

Several photos of our coral (M. faveolata) recruits that were transported to the University of Miami's Experimental Hatchery. We will periodically post pictures as the grow.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Coral "babies" are moved to their "new" home (Phase 1)

After about two weeks, the corals have settled and metamorphosed and are ready to be returned to the field or moved to the Miami Experimental Hatchery.

Corals were transported in a cooler to the Hatchery (a two hour ride) and once the water temperature had equilibrated, they were transferred into a holding tank. The recruits will acclimate here for several days and then be divided between several treatments as we work with Tom Capo and the staff of the hatchery to design the optimum rearing conditions.

Phillip Gillette placing the settlement tile with coral recruits into the holding tank.

Monday, August 17, 2009

And we have settlers!

We introduced ceramic tiles as a substrate for the larvae to settle on. These tiles had been on the reef about three months and had developed a partial covering of crustose coralline algae (a settlement cue for coral larvae). The tiles were placed in the coolers on Saturday evening (below) and by Sunday morning, many larvae had settled onto the tiles (left). So, now the next step is metamorphosis where the newly settled larvae develops tentacles and becomes a coral polyp - so stay tune!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The next step....

The larvae are now swimming planulae and we plan to introduce settlement tiles into the containers today. Our goal is to rear hundreds of coral recruits and follow the establishment of the coral –algal symbiosis (see more of the Coffroth lab’s research at the BURR web page