Scientists seek cause of puffer fish skin disease
HONOLULU — Red rice coral hit by blue-green algae off Kauai’s North Shore has responded well to a treatment involving marine epoxy, according to state and federal scientists, but they’re still trying to find out what is causing skin problems in nearby Hawaiian puffer fish.
“Something’s going on on that North Shore,” Greta Aeby, assistant researcher at the University of Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://bit.ly/13VcVUg ).
Researchers in October photographed sites of dying coral in Anini. Trying to slow growth of algae, they applied marine epoxy, a material like clay, to bacteria on eight colonies of red rice coral. Eight nearby colonies were not treated.
University of Hawaii and U.S. Geological Survey researchers returned two months later. The determined that 4.4 percent of each treated colony was affected by the disease. In contrast, about 65.9 percent of each of the untreated red rice coral colonies had been wiped out by the bacteria.
“(The epoxy) basically slowed the disease a lot, so that’s good,” Aeby said. She called the disease “fairly lethal.”
During the October field work, researchers first noticed lesions on puffer fish.
Normal skin color is olive green or brown with small polka dots. Diseased fish showed discolored, inflamed, ulcerated or rotting skin.
In an attempt to determine cause and prevalence of the disease, researchers from May 29 to June 5 surveyed five areas — three in Anini, one off Charo’s in Hanalei, and Makua Lagoon.
No fish were seen at one site in Anini. At another Anini site, 22 fish were spotted and five, or 23 percent, were detected with the skin disease, Aeby said. In all, 70 fish were seen at four of the sites.
Researchers plan to return to the sites in July, Aeby said.
The blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, is also affecting ringed rice coral and blue rice coral, and both have been proposed as threatened species. Marine epoxy will be applied to the other affected coral species next month.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.