Discover (and save!) But this coral only produces bundles of eggs and sperm on a handful of days each year, and the sperm and eggs are only viable for a few hours, leaving no time to move them to another region. New World Publications, Inc., Paramount Miller Graphics, Inc., Jacksonville, Florida. Today, it is very rare and is considered critically endangered by reef scientists. Acropora palmata, the Elkhorn Coral, is the king of all Caribbean Coral Reef species. The yellow-brown, broad branches resemble elk antlers; and so the common name. This large branching coral often dominates reef communities: not only does it grow very fast at a rate of 5 to 10 cm (~2 to 3.9″) a year, but it is also very competitive and extends over other coral colonies. Elkhorn coral produce hard antler-like structures composed of calcium carbonate. Caribbean coral species are dying off, indicating dramatic shifts in the ecological balance under the sea, a new scientific study of Caribbean marine life shows. This species is structurally complex with many large branches. The new coral species known as Pacific Elkhorn coral bears a strong resemblance to the endangered Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) found only in the Atlantic Ocean and primarily the Caribbean. Color: Golden-brown with light rims. Elkhorn Coral colonies have suffered heavily from a variety of threats, notably white-band disease, bleaching and sedimentation. Our species of the week, Elkhorn Coral (Acropora palmata), is one of the most important reef-building corals within the entire Caribbean region. Here, elkhorn corals, sea fans and brain corals create living coral community centers for sea turtles, nurse sharks and over 500 species of reef fish that are diverse in color, shape, size and behavior. Elkhorn coral harbors symbiotic (depends on the host as the host depends on it to survive) zooxanthellae [autotrophic (creates own food through photosynthesis) dinoflagellates] which photosynthesize and provide energy in the form of carbon compounds (amino … However, NMFS also concluded listing fused-staghorn coral is not warranted, as it is a hybrid and does not constitute a species as defined under the ESA. Whether the Pacific elkhorn is an entirely new species or not is subject to scientific debate, because Zoe has uncovered that over a century ago, in 1898, a scientist called Gardiner described a coral from the island of Rotuma, near Fiji in the South Pacific whose description fits that of the Pacific elkhorn. The Caribbean branching coral Acropora palmata which has already seen an 80 percent decrease on reefs primarily due to disease, which has resulted in them being classified as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act. It, along with staghorn coral and star corals (boulder, lobed, and mountainous), built Caribbean coral reefs over the last 5,000 years. Branch diameter between 5 and 25 cm, and 1-3 cm thick .Color:Golden-brown with light rims.Corallites:Corallites are porous protruding tubes, less than 5 mm long and 0.5-0.8 mm in diameter. Animal Diversity Web International Union for Conservation of Nature. This species of coral is structurally complex with many large branches. Download ecosystem and protected area lists, Management plans and Management Success Reports, Establishing and utilising effective geographic information systems, Information management system for biodiversity. Like its thinner cousin staghorn coral, elkhorn colonies provide complex habitat for juvenile fish. Ancient and endangered, sea turtles have long been a conservation priority for the islands of the Dutch Caribbean. The shallow-water stony corals of the Netherlands Antilles. Elkhorn and staghorn corals were once the most abundant and important species on Atlantic/Caribbean coral reefs in terms of building reef structure. IUCN Status: CR (Critically Endangered) Physical Description . Named for its resemblance to elk antlers, elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) is structurally complex with many large, thick branches.As with staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis), the dominant reproduction mode of elkhorn coral is asexual fragmentation.New colonies form when branches break off of a colony and … In 2012, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed to upgrade the coral's Endangered Species Act status from "threatened" to "endangered." Elkhorn coral actively fighting off diseases on reef: Findings showed coral has core immune response regardless of disease type. Due to their tree-like growth form, elkhorn corals provide complex habitat for fish and other coral reef organisms. This large branching coral often dominates reef communities: not only does it grow very fast at a rate of 5 to 10 cm (~2 to 3.9″) a year, but it is also very competitive and extends over other coral colonies. Not in inner bays.Distribution:Abundant to common Bahamas and Caribbean; common to occasional South Florida. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration The coral structure resembles that of elk horns, and they create the perfect habitat for many other species of the reef. ScienceDaily . It, along with elkhorn coral and star corals (boulder, lobed, and mountainous) built Caribbean coral reefs over the last 5,000 years. While elkhorn coral seems unaffected by the current, major outbreak of stony coral tissue loss disease, it’s in serious trouble nonetheless and has been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 2006. Our colorful reefs here in the Dutch Caribbean are known worldwide for their high level of biodiversity, notably the impressive number of different coral species they harbor. (No-take zones were put in place for elkhorn and staghorn corals, the two Caribbean coral species listed in 2006.) Elkhorn coral is named for its resemblance to elk antlers. Diver swimming over Elkhorn Coral in the Florida Keys. Established in 1964, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species. … One of the park’s greatest and most magnificent treasures lies below the water’s surface – Florida’s Coral Reef. Photo courtesy Paige Gill, Florida National Marine Sanctuary. Acropora palmata grows into thick robust branches and is the most important reef-building species in the Caribbean. Since 1980, an estimated 90-95% of elkhorn coral has been lost. The elkhorn coral’s complex large and thick green colored branches can reach a length of 6.5 feet (two meters). Strategic plans are an essential step towards ensuring the proper management of protected areas.
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