Healthy Pillar Coral colony on Vauxhall Reef 23Mar2024

Pillar Coral in Reef Front zone of Vauxhall Reef, Mar 22, 2024. Pillar Coral in Reef fron zone of Vauxhall Reef, Mar 22, 2024. The species is considered Critically Endangered (U.S.)

It’s a rare day when I spend time at Vauxhall Reef and don’t find “something new” or get an especially good photo of a species I have been chasing for a while.

Today’s (Mar 22, 2024) find was an entirely healthy colony of Pillar Coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus) in the Reef Front zone.

There were a dozen plus healthy colonies of Pillar coral at Vauxhall prior to the arrival of SCTLD in 2023. Pillar coral is considered by AGGRA to be Highly Susceptible to SCTLD, and it seemed odd in early 2023 that these colonies remained healthy while there were seemingly many corals with SCTLD. However, all colonies of Pillar Coral I have seen to date this year (2024)  were entirely or mostly dead. So my secret hope that perhaps the pillar corals at Vauxhall had qualities, e.g. related to their associated microbes, that made them resistant to SCTLD was no more.

But now I can hope that there is something special about this one specimen! I will surely keep an eye on it, also on new growth on colonies killed by SCTLD

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