Categorized | Environment, Sci-Tech

Volunteers needed to observe coral spawning in March-April


Aloha All.

Please Read this Request for Volunteers from Mr. Dana Riddle…..and join us again this year for coral spawning observations!

A kitchen baster is used to collect gametes as the coral spawns. (Photo courtesy of David Kearnes/ )

Dana is preparing for observations of the Pocillopora meandrina (cauliflower coral) , P. eydouxi (antler coral) and Leptastrea bewickensis ( an encrusting coral) spawnings. He is hoping that the ReefWatchers and other interested folks will join in the hunt for spawning corals again this year. His articles on spawnings in 2007 and 2008 have highlighted the value of volunteers making observations and reporting their information. Together we have documented information on cauliflower coral, antler coral and lobe or mound corals. None of this work had been done before. The ReefWatchers have made themselves a place in marine science history.

This year, there is a full moon near the end of March, possibly triggering a coral spawning in late March/early April. In addition, the full moon in April is near the end of the month. It is possible we could see two spawnings in April (with earliest spawning occurring in late March).

No spawning was observed in March or April 2009. It is thought that unusually low water temperature delayed spawning until May (when a massive spawning was observed by the ReefWatchers).

We again have an opportunity to advance our knowledge and understanding of coral reproductive behavior. I am hopeful that volunteers will again come forward this year and report any coral spawnings. In particular, water temperature is an important environmental cue and should be included with any report. Time of spawning is also critical in advancing our understanding of the impacts of lunar light and solar light.

These are the hypotheses/theories in place: Timing of Pocillopora meandrina spawning is triggered by sunset time the evening before spawning. We have seen spawnings fall into this timing pattern here in Kona.

Temperature plays an important part in promoting or delaying spawning. Unfortunately, our data is not sufficient to establish any trends related to temperature.

Dana will provide each participating person with a data logging temperature ‘button’ about the size of a nickel, made of stainless steel which contains micorelectronics that record time and temperature. It can be carried in a mesh bag, tied onto a snorkeler’s wetsuit or belt. He must hear from folks who want the temperature loggers no later than March 14th to order them and have them available by the possible late March/early April spawning.

Interested folks call Dana at 936- 5509 or email him at the to order a thermometer. Please also notify Sara Peck that you are planning to observe. In March, Sara Peck will send out an observation form and explain how to make your own small wateproof information recording card.

Dana’s focus this year will concern identifying chemical cues that induce coral spat settlement, as well the temporal impacts of spawning on water chemistries. He thanks you for your help!

Dana Riddle and Sara Peck

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