Coral Reefs

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 153–153 | Cite as

Pink spots on Porites: not always a coral disease

  • Francesca BenzoniEmail author
  • Paolo Galli
  • Michel Pichon
Reef Site


Coral Coloni Yemen Coral Growth Spot Disease Coral Disease 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Bright pink spots or lines can appear on the surface of Porites due to different mechanical disturbances and subsequent recovery (Schuhmacher 1992; van Woesik 1998). The pink spot disease (Aeby 1993) is an infection of Porites by trematode larvae manifesting as pink swollen nodules and ultimately leading to predation by fish. Similar nodules, between 3 and 5 mm in diameter, were observed in south Yemen during a long-term coral monitoring.

Pink spots were found on 20% of 682 Porites lutea colonies surveyed in 2006. Each observed spot consisted of swollen coral tissue (Fig. 1a) and a barnacle’s cirri were observed expanding from it. Dry specimens study (Fig. 1b–c) confirmed that pyrgomatid cirripeds, commonly settling on scleractinian and hydrozoan coral colonies, were found below the pink spots. Hence, in our case, pink spots are the result of the mechanical/chemical stress caused by the cirriped larva settling on the living Porites.
Fig. 1

a A pink spot in vivo showing the swollen coral tissue around the cirriped opening; b in a dry sample, the tissue coloration persists and the cirriped growing on the coral skeleton is visible; c SEM image of a newly settled cirriped on a P. lutea corallite; di the same photoquadrat (25-cm side) monitored from November 2006 to March 2009 shows the variations in pink spots density over time, the sampling month and year is indicated at the bottom right

The monitoring was conducted twice a year between November 2006 and March 2009 and considerable temporal variation in pink spots density was observed on the same colonies (Fig. 1d–i). During the whole period, the coral growth did not appear limited and no preferential predation of swollen polyps by fish was observed.

Our observations suggest that field records of pink spots on Porites may not always be the result of a disease caused by a trematodiasis type of infection. Therefore, an initial verification of a disease such as Porites trematodiasis is recommended before assigning a disease name.



The authors thank Yemen LNG, TOTAL SA and Creocean. Study supported by Creocean under Yemen LNG funds.


  1. Aeby G (1993) Corals in the genus Porites are susceptible to infection by a larval trematode. Coral Reefs 22:216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Schuhmacher H (1992) Impact of some corallivorous snails on stony corals in the Red Sea. Proc 7th Int Coral Reef Symp 2:840–6Google Scholar
  3. van Woesik R (1998) Lesion healing on massive Porites spp. corals. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 164:213–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biotechnologies and BiosciencesUniversity of Milan-BicoccaMilanItaly
  2. 2.Museum of Tropical QueenslandTownsvilleAustralia

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