When corals die and fishes become fearless

McCormick, Mark (2016) When corals die and fishes become fearless. Wildlife Australia, 53 (3). pp. 38-41.

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[Extract] Summer temperatures are already close to the limits for survival of many corals. In March and April this year a strong El Niño event pushed temperatures on the northern Great Barrier Reef beyond what many corals could bear. The stress caused them to evict their zooxanthellae, the algae-like protozoa that provide their food and colour. Bleached corals can survive on energy reserves and the small amount of food they capture with their tentacles for about 10 days to a month, depending on temperatures. This year the water stayed hot for too long, and many corals died – more than a third of those in the northern Great Barrier Reef. Within days of death the white coral skeletons were tinged green by algae. Within weeks they became blanketed by algae, and invertebrates started reducing them to rubble. What happened to the fishes on these reefs? We know that as reefs degrade, the fish communities change. Some species thrive, but the variety is diminished. Fishes that have strong associations with coral are the worst affected, and often die faster than expected.

Item ID: 48553
Item Type: Article (Commentary)
ISSN: 0043-5481
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Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2017 00:03
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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