This field study aims to determine whether increased levels of organically enriched particulate matter released by net pen fish farms (Eilat, Red Sea) would affect the growth of nubbins taken from the branching coral Stylophora pistillata. We followed the survival and growth of 1322 nubbins pruned from five colonies that were transplanted at a depth of 6 m in the vicinity of the fish cages and in a reference site, in front of the Interuniversity Institute (IUI). Nubbins were attached on U-shaped PVC plates in three orientations (up, vertical and down positions). After 50 days, survival was high in both localities and no difference was recorded between the spatial orientations. At the fish farm, however, burial of the nubbin's lateral growths and partial coverage of nubbins by settled particulate matter resulted in significant reduction of the lateral growth rates of nubbins settled in the up position as compared to the reference site. On the other hand, faster growth rates were recorded in the vertical set of nubbins at the fish farm when compared with the IUI site. These results strengthen the conclusion that physical effects, rather than nutrient enrichment, may constitute the main cause of stress for minute coral fragments (resembling coral recruits) growing near the vicinity of a fish farm.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the staff at the National Center for Mariculture and the Interuniversity Institute of Eilat for helping in the fieldwork and the staff of Ardag Fish Farm. This work was partially supported by the Monitoring Program for the Jordanian–Israeli Peace Park in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba and by the AID-CDR.
- Particulate matter
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science