DoE enlists divers to track coral disease

| 23/06/2020 | 0 Comments
Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease on susceptible species (Photo by Dr Karen Neely)

(CNS): The Department of Environment is asking divers and snorkellers, as they return to the water, to look out for any evidence of a new lethal coral disease. Scuba diving was allowed in Cayman this week for the first time since March, and researchers need people to report any signs of the latest threat to our reefs, which is currently devastating coral around the Caribbean.

The DoE said that Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) first appeared on Florida’s Reefs in 2014 and has spread to several countries in the Caribbean, some of which are very close to the Cayman Islands.

Researchers have been unable to determine the cause and method of transmission but evidence suggests it is a bacterial pathogen that is transmitted by touch and water circulation.

“The disease spreads rapidly and is known to affect more than 20 species of corals,” the DoE said on social media, as it asked for assistance.

“Once a coral is infected by SCTLD and begins to lose live tissue, it is likely that the colony will die within weeks to months. The loss of these corals affects overall coral reef health and can have catastrophic impacts on the ecosystems,” the department added.

They warned that it is possible the disease is already in local waters and it is important to understand where the disease is located in order for the DoE to respond effectively.

“This disease has a similar appearance to other known diseases such as White Plague Disease,” officials added.

Divers and snorkellers are asked to report any suspicious sightings directly to Tammi Warrender, a marine researcher working specifically on coral diseases with the Department of Environment.


For more information on SCTLD, see here
Identification guide, see here
Where this disease is currently, see here

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

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