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7 New Fishes and One Awful Coral Disease

October 9, 2014
lionfish

Spotfin lionfish (Pterois antennata)

From June 23 to July 3rd, 2014, the NPS Inventory & Monitoring Program carried out the marine benthic, fish, and marine water quality protocols at War in the Pacific National Historical Park (WAPA), Guam. A dive team consisting of Sly Lee (NPS Biotech), Eric Brown (NPS Marine ecologist), and I surveyed 30 sites across the park units of Asan and Agat. At the end our field sampling, a total of 30 reef structural complexity measurements, 750 underwater benthic photo images, and 96 marine water samples were taken; with 1,682 fishes counted and sized. Data entry, and sampling and image analyses are now underway.

We observed seven fish species that had never before been seen during Inventory & Monitoring Program sampling…. the pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion), the spiny tooth parrotfish (Calotomus spinidens), the striated surgeonfish (Ctenochaetus striatus), the greasy grouper (Epinephelus tauvina), the spotfin lionfish (Pterois antennata), the globe head parrotfish (Scarus globiceps), and the tasseled scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis oxycephala).

anemonefish

Pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion)

Our observations of the benthic community ranged from reef sites with a healthy amount of coral cover to that of an unhealthy reef, where a poorly managed watershed (pictured on the right) resulted in runoff; containing sediments and other pollutants that killed the living coral.

Good coral cover

Good coral cover

sick reef

Monitoring work above an unhealthy reef site

Benthic organisms can also become sick or infected with diseases and coralline algae is no exception.

Unfortunately, coralline lethal orange disease or “CLOD” was observed on two occasions. CLOD is a bacterial disease and, as the name implies, is characterized by a band of bright orange. Normally healthy live coralline algae are pink to magenta in color. The band infects the algae as it moves across the surface, the bare white or dead portion is what remains.

coral disease

Coralline lethal orange disease “CLOD” forms a distinctive orange band

We’ll look for these species and issues, and make other observations when we return for monitoring in 2015.

–Sheila A. McKenna, NPS Marine ecologist

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