The Demise of the Pacific Elkhorn

By Chris Maupin 9 years agoNo Comments

Pacific elkhorn devastation by Acanthaster planci, image from flickr page of Dean Jacobson


In 2004, Dean Jacobson from the College of the Marshall Islands first laid eyes on a unique Pacific Acropora species that resembled the Atlantic elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, so closely that those of us passionate about elkhorn coral (and there are a lot of us), blinked and rubbed our eyes. It was downright scary how closely these behemoths resembled A. palmata.

These colonies are found at Arno Atoll in the Marshall Islands, and were revealed to the world in 2010.  Now, in 2012, according to Jacobson himself, posting to the Coral List, a Crown of Thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, outbreak is decimating this unique population; apparently the starfish find this species “irresistible”.  Jacobson is planning a control dive and hopes to perhaps save living tips for cultivation in order to maintain the existence of these special corals.

View more photos on Jacobson’s flickr page:

Arno deadcoral1

Explore atolldino’s photos on Flickr. atolldino has uploaded 219 photos to Flickr.

  Conservation, Corals

 Chris Maupin

  (38 articles)

Chris Maupin is a research scientist at Texas A&M University, whose primary research interests consist of using the geochemistry of coral skeletons, microfossils and cave deposits to reconstruct climate variability and investigate climate change in the coral-rich regions of World Ocean. His day job ranges from from turning wrenches on mass spectrometers to culturing corals, with fieldwork in incredible places in between.

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