DoE ‘quarantining’ diseased coral

| 04/09/2020 | 11 Comments
Cayman News Service
DoE staff removing diseased coral (Photo courtesy of the DoE)

(CNS): Scientists at the Department of Environment have begun a delicate operation to prevent the spread of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) found off the north coast of Grand Cayman. In an effort to stop the disease infecting any more reefs, experts are removing the affected coral and ‘quarantining’ it on land for potential return to the sea if it recovers. Moving coral is illegal but given the emergency situation, the DoE has secured special permission.

The appearance of SCTLD on a Cayman’s reefs was first reported by a local dive operation and confirmed by the DoE in late June. Over the past few months the Marine Resources Unit has been surveying, monitoring and analysing the presence of the disease, in the first phase of a strategy to tackle the threat.

“We have not seen further evidence of SCTLD other than at the initially discovered site on the north side of Grand Cayman,” the DoE researchers said in a social media post. “This is good news however, we now need significant intervention at this site to try to stop this deadly coral disease.”

As a result the experts have moved on to phase two of the project and direct intervention. The skilled team of scientists at DoE are creating a firebreak around the infected area to slow down or potentially stop the spread of the disease.

“Installing a firebreak involves the targeted removal of infected corals from the surrounding healthy reef with careful precision and extreme accuracy,” officials from the DoE said. “Our team has been specially trained in the proper extraction of these infected corals from the reef with minimal to zero damage to the benthic habitat.”

Following the extraction the corals are prevented from contacting any other coral and then placed in ‘quarantine’.

“All removed colonies of coral are immediately placed in resealable bags with gloved hands and put into a crate, where they will not come into contact with other healthy corals,” the scientists explained. “Once these corals are removed from the reef, they will be kept on land if the researchers deem it appropriate to reattach the skeletons at a later date.”

Despite what might be good intentions, the DoE is warning recreational divers and snorkellers not to try and remove any diseased coral.

“Removing coral is illegal,” they said. “Given the rapid spread of this deadly disease threatening the destruction of Cayman’s reefs, DoE scientists received special permission from the National Conservation Council for this emergency intervention. This limited permission is only for DoE scientists so please do not try to remove potentially infected corals while on a dive or snorkel.”

Anyone who sees diseased coral is instead asked to report the details using the app ‘Epicollect5’ or to send photos, location and information direct to

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Stick some Bio-Buttons on it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can’t you all just leave shit alone?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Without knowing what is causing it, these efforts seem pointless.

  4. Anonymous says:

    No doubt this will be attributed to Climate Change?
    Many of our woes fall firmly at the feet of the ruling class who turn a blind eye to industrial pollution.
    They are trying so hard to blame it on the masses so they can regulate our lives even further.
    The dump in Cayman is a National Disgrace, but indicative of a foul and wicked mindset.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Let’s be proactive and BAN ALL reef diving!!! This disease will spread if we allow the reefs to be bombarded with people. If we are going to protect the reef, let’s do it properly.

    The few Caymanians in that industry will have to do something else. The rest can do the same or go home.

    • Anonymous says:

      and ban all boats?
      Pathogens spread in the water column and get collected in bilge water, then spread all over.
      Banning diving is not the answer to this. Diving is not no impact but it is also not the only human stressor on the reefs. The reefs where this is currently located is not a heavily dived area, this is more likely transferred via boats.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Where did this disease come from? The sun? Are we sure we got it all? Maybe the current brought it in? Are we sure it’s not on the Southside? Too many questions, we need more exploring. Tourism will possibly open by Christmas?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Well done DoE for being proactive. Apparently this disease has devastated coral elsewhere so hopefully it can be stopped in time here.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps DOE should protect against certain corrupt staff who spend more time doing private work than public funded duty.

    • Anonymous says:

      Send your evidence to the Ombudswoman, or stop trying to stir trouble without proof.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The diseased coral looks eerie.

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