Monday, October 20, 2008

August 2008, Vega Baja, Puerto Rico

Hello dear coral lovers and
other curious,

This is a late post but late
is better than never. This August 2008 at Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, we
have been able to observe spawning of Acropora palmata.

It is worthy to note that although
we were on site 5 nights (from the 19th to the 23rd),
we were able to observe the coral spawning only when visiting the same
coral thicket, which occurred in 3 of the 5 nights, but was rewarded
each time with bundle release! The two other (unsuccessful) nights,
we visited very shallow thickets and isolated colonies.

I have not been able to take
any good picture, so I will only post the least uninteresting ones!

Here is a more detailed report
of the events:

Tuesday 19th.
No spawning was seen, neither were any bundles spotted in the water
column. This was a night where only isolated colonies in shallow water
(0.75 to 1.75 m) were observed.

Wednesday 20th.
Although we arrived too late to observe gamete release on the reef (around
9:30 pm), we observed abundant coral spawn in the water column around
the colonies. This reef is a shallow reef (1.5 to 2.25 m) with dense

Votre navigateur ne gère peut-être pas l'affichage de cette image.

Egg bundles can be spotted on the coral. Particles in the water are egg bundles and, well, particules.

Thursday 21st.
A different part of the reef was observed this night. Since it a bit
distant from the thicket where gametes were observed the night before,
we can only guess what happened on this day other there… For the sake
of Science, we will not!

Sadly, this was not a very good choice, since no spawning or bundles
were observed around the small thickets of large colonies in extremely
shallow water (0.5 to 1.25 m) that we decided to visit. It is worth
noting that once we got out of the water, a local snorkeler mentioned
the presence of egg bundles around close-by colonies.

Friday 22nd.
At the same shallow reef with dense thickets (1.5 to 2.25 m) observed
on Wednesday 20th, mass spawning occurred again! While the
spawning on the 20th was significant, spawning this night
of the 22nd (night after the full moon) was really impressive
and the reward of almost literally bathing in coral bundles was exhilarating!
Spawning activity was concentrated between 21:15 and 21:45 with a peak
around 21:25-21:30.

Saturday 23rd.
Again, coral spawned at the same reef, same hours and peak activities.
Releases were still very abundant but somehow fewer and slighter than
the previous night though it really seemed more than on the 20th.

This was a rather off-track
activity for us, since most lab members do not specialize in coral science
and no special project was ongoing. Curiosity was rewarded (by luck?)
and we hope to come back next year for more monitoring, it is a very
well conserved piece of reef, recently rediscovered, and in surprising
good health. Let’s hope it will stay so, there are some worrying construction
activities on the shore that seem to be taken care of by the local administration
but they will certainly need help.

Good luck to all and take care,

Pascal Mege, PhD student, University of Puerto Rico (Rio Piedras)

Votre navigateur ne gère peut-être pas l'affichage de cette image.

I would like to thank and remember Sergio who had to go on another
voyage in another life in the following days.