New coral disease found off north coast

| 03/07/2020 | 14 Comments
Cayman News Service
Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease in the Cayman Islands (Photo courtesy of the DoE)

(CNS): Department of Environment researchers believe that Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), a major threat to coral reefs in the region, has turned up in local waters. Following a potential disease report by Tom Byrnes from Cayman Marine Lab on 21 June, the department’s own marine experts visited the location off the north coast of Grand Cayman, near Rum Point, on 26 June and it appears the disease has arrived here.

“Unfortunately, without a known pathogen, it is impossible to confirm any diagnosis,” the marine resources experts said. “However, the species, symptoms and rapid mortality rates resemble those seen in Florida and other Caribbean countries.”

SCTLD first appeared on Florida’s reefs in 2014 and has spread to several countries in the region. It is known to affect more than 20 species of stony corals, including primary reef building species: pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus), elliptical star coral (Dichocoenia stokesii) and maze coral (Meandrina meandrites), brain corals and the smooth flower coral (Eusmilia fastigiata).

Once a coral is infected it begins to lose live tissue and it is likely that the colony will die within weeks to months.

The DoE explained that it resembles other coral diseases such as White Plague Disease but can be distinguished by white patches occurring in different areas of the same colony, rapid death of live tissue and the amount of individual colonies infected on a dive site.

Divers and snorkellers can help to reduce the transfer of this significant threat and slow its spread by practicing proper buoyancy when diving, avoid touching marine organisms and sanitizing equipment between dives and after each dive excursion, especially between infected and uninfected locations.

Slowing down the spread will give local reefs more time to adapt to the disease, which is now being monitored by international scientists to identify the pathogens and develop treatments.

The DoE said it is also monitoring the spread of SCTLD in the waters around Cayman Islands and are developing a rapid response strategy.

Divers and snorkellers are asked to report any suspicious sightings directly to

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Byrne’s has a PHD in marine biology and is a Fulbright scholar.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yet he lacks the knowledge of a local. I’LL PASS NO THANKS!

      • Anonymous says:

        Local knowledge should always be valued and appreciated, but there is something to be said for spending 4-12 years of one’s life studying the ecology, biology, and ecosystem dynamics of coral reefs. There is room for everyone at the table here, those with local knowledge and formal education in this field. We all need to be working together to help ensure that Cayman’s reefs remain healthy for the future livelihoods of so many in this country!

  2. Anonymous says:

    2020 will really be in the history books!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Haven’t been wearing their masks.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well, there were experts who have said that GT reefs are dying. Remember the video on youtube that was taken off mysteriously? But with shipping there that could be an excuse. There is no shipping on that side of the island. The only cause has to be the same as FLA.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because only ex-pats can be marine biologists… Heavy sarcasm

      • Anonymous says:

        Heavy sarcasm noted; but no previous mention was of ex-pats or marine biologists.

        Care to clarify your innuendo?

      • Anonymous says:

        Would love to see more young Caymanians becoming Marine Biologists! Why is this not happening? Until it does, guess we need those expats that are trained and willing to do the job!

    • Anonymous says:

      The coral reefs around each of the three Cayman Islands are degrading, just like most other small island nations in the Caribbean. CCMI released a study last year of their monitoring and assessment efforts over a 20 year period and found that across all three islands there are fewer corals, smaller corals, and fewer fish now in 2020 than there were back in 2000. The George Town area and Rum Point are no exception, so why shouldn’t we all do what we can to protect these valuable resources for our future?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Coral got the ‘rona

  6. ELVIS says:

    what now? covid coral rot? what a year. WHAT TIME IS THE HURRICANE YOU SAY?

  7. Anonymous says:

    They should spread them out by 6 feet apart.

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