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Red Sea Corals that Defy Bleaching During Bleaching Conditions
Moustafa, M.Z., Moustafa, M.S., Moustafa,Z.D. and Moustafa, S.E. 2014. Survival of high latitude fringing corals in extreme temperatures: Red Sea oceanography. Journal of Sea Research 88: 144-151.

Located in the northern Red Sea's shallow Gulf of Suez, little Zaki's Reef lies adjacent to an extremely arid desert, where rainfall is minimal, evaporation rates high, and freshwater inputs nearly non-existent, which state-of-affairs often leads to high seawater temperatures that can stress many species of reef-dwelling calcifying organisms severely enough that they would normally be expected to die.

What was done
To learn more about Zaki Reef's death-defying corals, Moustafa et al. conducted a multi-year study that investigated the link between coral reef survivability and the extreme environmental conditions present in the region, seeking first of all to determine just how extreme the conditions there really are at various times of the year.

What was learned
The four Moustafas report finding that (1) "coral species at Zaki's Reef regularly experience 2-4°C and 10-15°C daily and seasonal temperature variations, respectively," and that (2) "observed seawater temperatures exceeded established coral bleaching thresholds for extended periods of time."

What it means
In the concluding sentence of their paper's abstract, Moustafa et al. write that "coral species at this location may have developed a mechanism to cope with such extreme temperatures," leading them to suggest that "further scrutiny of these species and the mechanisms by which they are able to thrive is recommended," since - as they state in the concluding sentence of the body of their paper - these corals "hold the potential to benefit other coral communities as a resilient transplant species and model for understanding coral survivability in extreme environmental conditions."

Reviewed 20 August 2014