How Algae-Tending Fish Help Branching Corals Survive Marine Heat Waves
Marine heat waves are devastating coral reefs worldwide, leading to coral bleaching and death. However, a study has found that fish that tend to patches of stringy algae help shield branching corals from the worst effects of these heat waves and may help them recover after bleaching.
The study was conducted near the French Polynesian island of Moorea in the South Pacific Ocean, which endured its worst heat stress event in 14 years. During the event, branching corals there bleached en masse, losing the symbiotic algae living in them that supply most of their food.
However, scientists found that certain fish, such as farmerfish, are territorial and protect their algae gardens. These fish cleared surrounding seaweed, allowing sunlight to reach the corals and promoting the growth of cooler, branched algae. This helped provide shade for the corals during the heat wave and allowed them to recover more easily after bleaching.
Researchers believe that these fish could play a crucial role in the recovery of coral reefs after bleaching events. By understanding the intricate interactions between marine species, scientists and marine conservationists can develop better strategies for protecting and preserving these delicate ecosystems.
In conclusion, fish that tend patches of stringy algae serve as an important ally to branch corals, helping them survive marine heat waves and recover after bleaching. If implemented correctly, strategies to protect these fish and their algae gardens could help mitigate the effects of climate change on coral reefs worldwide.#Algaefarming #fish #coral #reefs #bounce #bleaching #events