Tip of the Day – 9/15/15 Palytoxin Part 2




Coral fragging can be an arduous and time consuming endeavor without the proper tools. It also can also be a dangerous process without proper eye and hand protection (see palytoxin article). It can be a pain to drag all of the pieces out when you want to do some fragging, but it is well worth your time to have the proper gear and protection!

Protection,specifically skin and eye, is an absolute must if you are going to be working with Zoa and Paly corals. These innocent looking corals produce a dangerous vascoconstrictor known as Palytoxin. Palytoxin is a natural compound that is produced by several marine species and can be found in many more species due to a process known as biomagnification. The problem with this toxin is that it destroys the Ion gradient that is essential for most cells and if left unchecked it will spread and affect every cell in the body, in many cases causing death. Because symptoms vary depending on exposure, many symptoms are often attributed to other ailments. Common early signs of palytoxin exposure include chest pain, breathing difficulties, tachycardia and unstable blood pressure.

In 2005, enormous blooms of the algae ovatoxin-a, a derivative of palytoxin,  were produced by the Mediterranean tropical dinoflagellate Ostreopsis ovata. The algae bloom drifted into the coastal waters of Genoa, Italy and unbeknownst to the locals, began to cause illnesses. Hundreds of locals and tourist started reporting symptoms of high fevers, coughing and wheezing, some so severely that they required hospitalization. Eventually scientist traced the unexplained illness to the algae bloom and were able to fix the problem.

So what does an algae bloom in Italy in the mid 2000s have to do with you and your fragging endovors? If an algae bloom in a large span of water can cause mass illnesses, imagine what would happen to you if you just happened to receive a direct sting from one of your Zoa and Paly friends. Corals are wonderful, but not worth your life. Put on your gloves and protect your eyes EVERY TIME, even if you are just going to handle your Zoa or Play for a few minutes.



About Author

Scott Groseclose is the owner of AquaNerd, Aquarium Specialty, Aqua Specialty Wholesale, BioTek Marine, & The Carolina Reef Experience. He has a degree in Biology from St. Andrews University and he has been a passionate reef keeper since 1988.