Kate Rawlinson contacted me two days ago with news that Amakusaplana acroporae (we called them AEFW) have finally been discovered in nature. This is the first step in determining a possible point of origin as well as to hopefully find a suitable predator to remove them from our precious corals.
Much research has been poured into understanding this tiny pests that have devoured gorgeous Acroporid reefs in aquariums across the Unite States, but the people involved are few. Kate has been very generous with what she's discovered thus far, and is always looking for anyone to supply her with additional AEFW on corals if the hobbyist is willing to 'fund' her efforts. You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's a screenshot from the article that released today. This is Lizard Island, in the northern Great Barrier Reef, to be exact. And on what coral did they find them specifically? Acropora valida, the one coral I've stated in my own article as the "canary in the coal mine," the one that they seem to hit first for some reason.
This is the first report of them being found in the wild, and it's a huge deal. For those of you with scientific inquiry, the published paper can be found here with all the details: Discovery of the Corallivorous Polyclad Flatworm,Amakusaplana acroporae, on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia – the First Report from the Wild
10 colonies were carefully taken from the ocean after being chiseled from their rock substrate, and bagged to avoid losing anything that was hidden within the branches. With visual inspection, no AEFW nor any bite marks were visible. Yet, when the corals were inverted and hit with pressurized sea water, Amakusaplana acroporae were discoverd in the sieves placed beneath in 7 of the 10 colonies. Two acropora crabs were also found in the colonies, which begs the question if these commensal crabs are possible predators of the AEFW and their eggs.
In the meantime, we want to thank Kate Rawlinson and her teammates for continuing to find out all they can about this pest, what makes it tick, and how we can hopefully control their outbreaks in our aquariums.
Oh no, there are AEFW in my tank! http://www.melevsreef.com/aefw.html
AEFW get an official name: The-Acropora-eating-flatworm-has-a-name-Amakusaplana-acroporae