Could Lobsters Help Save Florida’s Corals?

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A spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) intimidates a scuba diver by waving its’ antennae in a threatening manner.

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Coral reefs are in danger around the world. Michael Aw / Ocean Image Bank Will we find corals’ white knights in spiny armor? The question is one that Florida scientists and ocean advocates are eager to answer ー and using lobsters to do so. The coral reefs in Florida are in trouble. With the climate crisis , warming and acidifying ocean waters , poor water quality and a rampant, mystery coral disease , the reefs in the Southern United States have been in sharp decline. They’re in such an unhealthy state that even grazing by sea snails, which occurs naturally, are adding undue stress to corals and becoming a serious issue. The snail, Coralliophila galea , is an "inconspicuous" predator that hides on the underside of coral structures during the day and emerges at night to feed on sessile coral prey that are unable to evade them, said Casey B. Butler, Research Associate with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which is a part of the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI). "Our coral reefs in Florida and throughout the Caribbean have been hit with an onslaught of stressors, such as poor water quality, rampant coral disease […]

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