(Photo: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)

Fish help coral reefs bounce back

  • BY Natsumi Penberthy |
  • July 14, 2009

Herbivorous fish may be key to shoring up coral resilience.

NEW RESEARCH SUGGESTS that herbivore fish species such as the parrotfish and surgeonfish may underpin coral reef resilience to damage.

The study, which was partially funded by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University, focussed on the coral reefs off Moorea, in the central Pacific, which have rebounded on five occasions despite sustaining heavy damage from four bleaching events and a cyclone in the past 18 years.

ARC researcher Dr Lucie Penin says that these fish act like weeders, restraining the algae that invades the vacant space left by damaged and bleached coral. Lucie says that this has helped Moorea corals regain ground after invasions of turf and micro algae.

While evidence of the ability of reefs to recover from damaging events is encouraging, Lucie also warns that over-fishing may tip the balance in favour of invasive algae.

Fish recovery good news for Murray River
Queensland cuts bag limit for snapper
Native fish swims 800km to find a mate
Follow thy neighbour: how fish move in a pack
Deep-water corals adapt to low light
Pygmy seahorse and corals found at new depths
News: bleached coral threatens GBR
Gallery: crocheted corals
Smaller, isolated reefs more vulnerable
On this day: Great Barrier Reef protected
How to save a coral reef
Experts fear major reef damage from stranded ship