Thickets of Acropora palmata growing together in such densities have become increasingly rare in the Caribbean Sea Today, 33% of coral species are listed on the on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of endangered species. Since 1980 it has been estimated that 90-95% of elkhorn coral has been lost. Elkhorn coral actively fighting off diseases on reef Findings showed coral has core immune response regardless of disease type Date: October 23, 2020 Acropora palmata, the Elkhorn Coral, is the quintessential Caribbean Coral Reef species. On March 3, 2005, we determined that elkhorn and staghorn corals were likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout their entire ranges, and, therefore, a proposal to list the two species as threatened under the ESA was warranted (70 FR 13151; March 18, 2005). Unfortunately, the risk of shipgrounding on big ‘trees’ of Acropora palmata is a long forgotten memory. The Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) is a Critically Endangered stony coral species distributed in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Florida and the Bahamas. Elkhorn coral has been reported as far north as Broward County, with significant reef development and framework construction by this species beginning at Ball Buoy Reef in Biscayne National Park, extending discontinuously southward to the Dry Tortugas. The Endangered Species Coalition’s mission is to stop the human-caused extinction of our nation’s at-risk species, to protect and restore their habitats, and to guide these fragile populations along the road to recovery. We connected with the Puntacana Foundation to visit their coral nurseries where they’ve had immense success growing and propagating huge quantities of Caribbean staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis. The coral receives nutrients and oxygen from algae, and the algae receive nutrients and carbon dioxide from the coral. Image of landscape, conservation, marine - 158004068 Our site uses cookies. Like staghorn coral, elkhorn coral has been listed as federally threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Rising sea temperature increases algae growth so oxygen levels become too high for the coral, causing "bleaching"—the coral expels the algae and dies. Join the Endangered Species Coalition Activist Network to receive emails with actions that you can take to protect endangered and threatened species. The Elkhorn Coral has become endangered because of different types of human activity. Low genetic diversity makes coral populations more susceptible to being decimated by disease. The rising temperature of the ocean as a result of global warming is the single greatest threat to this coral species, as well as coral reefs more generally worldwide. This species was once so abundant that entire regions of the reef were called the ‘Palmata Zone’ and it was important to know where the palmata zones were, because their sturdy branches easily sank ships. If seeing fields of staghorn was refreshing, then seeing a strong healthy stand of Acropora palmata was closer to a religious experience, and we can’t wait until the next time we come across a small forest of Elkhorn coral. With our primary coral photo targets acquired, we shifted our focus to shallow reef waters and set out to see what Acroporids we could find around Punta Cana. Staghorn coral is one of the most important corals in the Caribbean. Montastrea cavernosa, Meandrina, Agaricia and Mycetophyllia are all species of corals from the tropical west atlantic which have no real counterparts in the Indian and Pacific Oceans so these are the coral targets we really looked forward to seeing and photographing. Endangered Species Act in 2006 and is currently listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. If the coral cannot assimilate new zooxanthellae the coral will die. A related threat, ocean acidification, caused by the ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide, impairs the ability of corals to build their protective skeletons. With a natural abundance reduced to one percent of its former glory, Elkhorn coral is truly deserving of all federal and international protections of an endangered species. The thing is, you can still find Acropora palmata growing everywhere, but it’s usually just a small remnant, a large encrustation or one poorly developed branch just trying to hang on to life. This list classifies the extinction risk of species based on criteria such as population size reduction and geographic range information. A related threat, ocean acidification, caused by the ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide, impairs the ability of corals to build their protective skeletons. NMFS designated critical habitat for elkhorn and staghorn corals in November 2008. Scientists predict that most of the world’s corals will be subjected to mass bleaching events at deadly frequencies within 20 years on our current emissions path. Throughout its range, it has become more and more rare, and scientists now consider it to be critically endangered (very highly vulnerable to extinction). Genus Acropora contains three Atlantic/Caribbean species, all currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A short video of an Elkhorn coral I spotted recently off Dania Beach. Seeing huge thickets of completely healthy staghorn coral was such a refreshing sight, and we are truly impressed with how well the Puntacana Foundation has been able to create and outplant countless frags on nearby and neighboring reefs. Elkhorn Coral has become highly endangered due to a combination of factors. There was just enough Acropora palmata growing in this one area that for a moment, while swimming in the center of it all we could see was Elkhorn coral in every direction. Photo about Critically endangered Elkhorn Coral on coral reef off Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean. Jake Adams has been an avid marine aquarist since the mid 90s and has worked in the retail side of the marine aquarium trade for more than ten years. In 2012, Earthjustice, representing CBD, filed a lawsuit seeking greater protections from fishing for threatened coral reefs in the Caribbean. We spent quite a bit of time working on such a Palmata Reef at Rincon, Puerto Rico nearly ten years ago, but it’s been so long since we’ve seen a good stand of this quasi-mythical coral.
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