Dr. Greta Aeby's Lab, shown here at http://www.himb.hawaii.edu/HawaiiCoralDisease/, is a facility at HIMB dedicated to studying the effects of coral disease. As written on her website, Dr. Aeby's main objectives are to:
- Conduct field surveys to get a baseline of the abundance and distribution of diseases in corals, fish and crustose coralline algae.
- Systematically describe gross and microscopic morphology of lesions in corals and fish.
- Culture and identify potential pathogens associated with diseased corals.
- Conduct focused studies to understand the epizootiology of the different diseases.
Dr. Aeby's lab and Reef Check Hawaii sponsor the Eyes of The Reef network. This program was developed to increase public awareness and encourage community reporting of the issues of coral bleaching and coral disease. Increasing this awareness is necessary in order to catch the early signs of these events.
Recently, the HIMB Community Education Program took one of the Eyes of the Reef posters, had it printed as a sign, and posted it outside the Aeby lab. Now our tour groups can stop by the sign, talk with their groups and learn a bit more about what the lab does.
This sign shows comparative pictures of healthy corals and corals with disease. It also shows the chain of events that can occur due to the diseases or other issues. The poster tells us:
"Many Healthy Corals are commonly seen in Hawaii. Coral diseases may cause discoloration, tissue loss, or abnormal growths. Marine invasive species smother coral reefs, threaten the habitats of native species, and litter our beaches. Report coral bleaching and large populations of crown-of-thorns Seastars. Observe carefully! Predation, invasion, competition, and abrasion are often mistaken for coral disease."
The lab's work will help to solve these issues in our surrounding areas. Since they collaborate with other labs around the world, information we learn here may globally help with similar marine issues. There can never be enough trained eyes to help catch these events. Research will continue to help us understand, diagnose, cure and/or resolve these issues.
If you are leading a tour or are on a tours of HIMB, stop by this lab.