Coral reef experts and enthusiasts from around the world use NOAA's Coral Health and Monitoring Program (CHAMP) listserve as a forum to discuss and debate a myriad of coral topics and issues. Discussions are lively and can last for weeks. This section presents some of these dynamic discussions among professionals.
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Sequencing a Coral Genome
A $9 million proposal for sequencing a coral genome was made to the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and is under serious consideration. Participants discuss the importance of sequencing, the coral species to sequence and the selection of a representative species or coral "lab rat." more detail
Corals vs. Rain Forests
Coral reef communities often are compared to rainforests in their level of biodiversity. Yet, some within the scientific community debate the accuracy of the analogy. Some believe it is merely a catchy "sound bite," while others believe it can be used as a good educational tool. Coral listserve participants discussed the implications of the analogy, as well as the actual similarities and differences between coral reefs and rainforests. more detail
Should Acropora spp. Be Included on the Endangered Species List
In 1999, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) was considering listing elkhorn and staghorn corals as candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). NMFS requested feedback from the scientific community on the possibility, and coral listserve participants discussed the pros and cons of the ESA listing. more detail
Deep water Corals
Some studies show that deep water coral structures occur more frequently and are biologically richer than previously thought. Stemming from the coral reefs vs. rainforests debate, participants discussed deep and cool water reefs. The discussion focused on definitional problems and the accuracy of coral-related terminology.
A Future for Coral Reefs?
A coral scientist recently suggested that coral reefs as we know them are destined for extinction within 50 years, regardless of any action taken now. Participants debated the accuracy of this assertion, whether corals could rapidly adapt to changing conditions, and the likely causes for reef decline.
The IndoPacific lionfish invasion of the
U.S. south Atlantic sea coast and Caribbean Sea
Lionfishes are venomous species of scorpionfishes which are native to IndoPacific and oceanic coral reef ecosystems and adjacent habitats. Because of their colorful and dramatic appearance, they are prized by aquarists around the world. Through accidental and purposeful release into warm Atlantic waters, they have become established as voracious alien species that pose a serious threat to coral reefs in Bermuda, the American tropics of Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, throughout the Caribbean islands and Central America, and northern South America.
The Chagos Islands
The United Kingdom-owned Chagos Archipelago, located in a remote central part of the Indian Ocean, contains the world's largest coral atoll and has one of the most pristine and healthiest shallow-water reef ecosystems in the world. In 1966, the British Government compensated and evicted the entire native population, which has since been pursuing a series of lawsuits seeking further compensation and the right to return to the territory. Since then, a U.S.-U.K. military base was established on the island of Diego Garcia. Most marine conservationists have been promoting the designation of the Chagos as a marine protected area, while others were concerned with the Chagossian rights to return. Coral listserve participants discussed Chagos coral reef ecosystem protection and conservation and the rights of the displaced native Chagossians. more detail