News

A casualty of warmer oceans

The Solitary Island's anemone populations could be at grave risk due to rising ocean temperatures.
The Solitary Island's anemone populations could be at grave risk due to rising ocean temperatures.

A NEW study has found the Solitary Islands' sea anemones, which provide habitat for anemone fish, may be seriously impacted by even small increases in seawater temperatures.

The study, published in Coral Reefs, has found that the sea anemone species entacmaea quadricolor, from North Solitary Island is already living close to its thermal limit.

Co-authored by UTS marine scientist Dr Ross Hill and Dr Anna Scott from Southern Cross University's National Marine Science Centre, the study is the first of its kind to demonstrate the impact of rising temperatures on the sea anemones.

The adverse impacts documented are likely to have subsequent impacts on their resident anemone fish, which are unable to survive in the wild without their anemone homes.

Sea anemones, like their coral relatives, depend on symbiotic algae for survival and are susceptible to bleaching caused by rising seawater temperatures.

Until now, scientists have been unsure just how vulnerable these anemone species might be to climate change impacts.

"This region has been identified as a climate hot-spot and because this sea anemone species makes up a large part of the reef's ecosystem it's important to know the upper survival limits," Dr Hill said.

Dr Scott said the East Australian Current was predicted to bring warmer water to the Solitary Islands Marine Park, which is home to the highest density of host sea anemones in the world.

"Over the years there have been studies showing that anemone bleach in the field, but we haven't known what the temperature thresholds are. This research has given us the first information on the susceptibility of these species and a clearer picture of what might happen in the future if temperatures continue to rise," Dr Scott said.

The scientists set up experimental tanks at the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour and exposed collected sea anemones to different temperatures and light intensities to simulate conditions predicted to occur over the next 100 years.

"At even moderate temperatures, 27°C, which is only 1°C above the summer average, algae were expelled from the host sea anemone.

"At 29°C the bleaching process continued and in some cases the sea anemones died.

"This species, the anemone fish associated with it and the North Solitary Island Reef ecosystem are likely to be significantly impacted if seawater temperatures rise by between two and six degrees as predicted.

The research also showed that, as with corals, high light intensity promotes bleaching in sea anemones; further supporting the view that sea anemones are just as sensitive as corals to climate change impacts.

The research has been funded by the Sydney Aquarium Conservation Foundation.

 



Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Tale of two babies

EQUALITY: The Fair Go campaign is fighting for a equality in services for regional Australians, like Gisela Parker and little Emmett.

Fair Go: Different prospects for babies born only 521km apart

Big decisions as Pioneer Park and school access voted on

COUNCIL MATTERS: The Duke St extension was given the green light at the Coffs Harbour City Council meeting on Thursday night.

Permanent road will be built through Pioneer Park

It’s tools up for new Men’s Shed

WORK STARTS: Men’s Shed president Dave Churchyard and Mayor Denise Knight turn the first sod at the new Men’s Shed development.

Stage one of Coffs Harbour’s new Men’s Shed is under way

Latest deals and offers


Rally Australia Chair Ben Rainsford

Kennards Hire Rally Australia will bring spectacular world rally action back to the NSW Coffs Coast on November 17-20.

Rally Australia Chairman Ben Rainsford comments on Coffs Harbour City Council...

AFL North Coast preview

BACK IN THE FOLD: Grafton’s Josh Lollback returns to the line-up for today’s knockout semi final clash against Port Macquarie. Photo: Debrah Novak/Daily Examiner

Paul Taylor and Allanah Hanson take a look at the AFL North Coast news ahead of...

British family bashed in Thailand

Family beaten and kicked unconscious by gang in Thailand.

Family beaten and kicked unconscious by gang in Thailand.

Renting harder in Coffs than Sydney

HIGH DEMAND: Coffs Harbour rental properties are in higher demand than in Sydney.

Coffs Harbour’s rental vacancy rate at lowest level in eight years

How a sacked real estate agent made $725k in four months

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog

VIDEO: Art Deco fan pays $835,000 for Imperial Hotel

No Caption

Iconic "Impy" sold at a bargan price to bidder who loves Art Deco.