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Indonesian reef invaded by coral-killing sponge

By Shane Graber - Posted Apr 02, 2013 10:00 AM
The coral-killing sponge, Terpios hoshinota, was recently found on a Java reef and smothers all coral that it comes into contact with as it grows.
Indonesian reef invaded by coral-killing sponge

a Terpios hoshinota overgrowing large patches of coral colonies at the reef of Dapur Island, off Jakarta, Java, August 2, 2011 (5°55′22.8″S, 106°43′23.0″E). b Close-up of the sponge overgrowing the coral Montipora sp.

Oftentimes found growing symbiotically with several cyanobacteria species, Terpios hoshinota smothers coral and other immobilized organisms as it spreads. Up until recently, it was found only in the Pacific Island range of Guam to the northwestern Pacific. However, researchers Voodg, Cleary, and Dekker found it for the first time in Java and they report their findings in the latest issue of Coral Reefs.

During diving expeditions in 2011 and 2012, Voogd's team searched for this sponge on several Indonesian reefs. In most of the areas they did not find it. However, they did find it when diving in the Thousand Islands, Java, photos of which are seen above. They confirmed its identity using DNA sequencing and through examination of the sponge's spicules.

Normally this sponge is only found in stressed, polluted areas, and the Thousand Islands has recently gone through a number of stress events causing coral in those areas to be in a poor state of health. Voogd's team stresses it is important to continue monitoring the situation as this sponge may continue advancing, causing destruction to other area reefs.

(Via Coral Reefs)

Author: Shane Graber
Location: Indiana

Shane has kept saltwater tanks for the last 12 years, is a research scientist, lives in northern Indiana, and is a proud Advanced Aquarist staffer.


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