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Free Content Observations on Zooxanthellae Expulsion at Middle Sambo Reef, Florida Keys

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Large-scale discoloration of Middle Sambo reef, 7.8 km from Boca Chica Key, Monroe County, Florida, was investigated on September 26, 1973. Discoloration of organisms was generally confined to the reef flat. The hydrozoan coral Millepora camplanata displayed greatest discoloration. Some Acropora palmata, Montastraea annularis, and Palythoa sp. colonies were mildly discolored. Corals were still viable.

Calm weather, high ambient temperatures, and low tides at midday are believed to have caused water temperature elevation sufficient to produce thermal stress, thereby causing expulsion of endosymbiotic algae, Gymnodinium microadriaticum, with consequent discoloration of cnidarian hosts. Most organisms regained normal color within 6 weeks. Reports of similar coral discoloration incidents are reviewed. Short periods of thermal stress appear to have little lasting effect on shallow reef cnidarian communities.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 1979

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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