Abstract: Bioerosion caused by boring mussels (Mytilidae: Lithophaginae) can negatively impact coral reef health. During biodiversity surveys of coral-associated fauna in Curaçao (southern Caribbean), morphological variation in mussel boreholes was studied. Borings were found in 22 coral species, 12 of which represented new host records. Dead corals usually showed twin siphon openings, for each mussel shaped like a figure of eight, which were lined with a calcareous sheath and protruded as tubes from the substrate surface. Most openings surrounded by live coral tissue were deeper and funnel-shaped, with outlines resembling dumbbells, keyholes, ovals or irregular ink blotches. The boreholes appeared to contain black siphon and mantle tissue of the mussel. Because of the black color and the hidden borehole opening in live host corals, the mantle tissue appeared to mimic dark, empty holes, while they were actually cloaking live coral tissue around the hole, which is a new discovery. By illustrating the morphological range of borehole orifices, we aim to facilitate the easy detection of boring mussels for future research.
Sean J. Langdon-Down
The presence of associated endofauna can have an impact on the health of corals. Duringfieldwork on the southern Caribbean island of Curaçao in 2021, the presence of an unknown coral-dwelling worm snail was discovered, which appeared to cause damage to its hosts. A study of photoarchives revealed that the species was already present during earlier surveys at Curaçao since 2014and also in the southern Caribbean island of Bonaire in 2019. It was not found in St. Eustatius, anisland in the eastern Caribbean, during an expedition in 2015. The vermetid snail was preliminarilyidentified asPetaloconchussp. Its habitat choice resembles that ofP. keenae, a West Pacific coralsymbiont. The Caribbean species was observed in 21 host coral species, more than reported for anyother vermetid. BecausePetaloconchussp. is a habitat generalist, it is possible that it was introducedfrom an area with another host-coral fauna. The unknown vermetid is considered to be cryptogenicuntil future studies reveal its actual identity and its native range.