Dedicated DoE team continues work on SCTLD

| 09/11/2021 | 6 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): The spread of the stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) across most of the reefs around Grand Cayman is of significant concern, and with very little known about the latest threat to the coral reefs, the Department of Environment now has a dedicated team of ten people solely dedicated to mitigating the spread and impacts on Cayman’s delicate marine habitat.

Every day at least five members of the team are out diving to treat the corals with a specialized antibiotic paste. The team is undertaking around two to three dives across Grand Cayman daily at sites determined either by recreational importance or the monitoring data that the DoE has collected.

Source: DoE (click to enlarge)

“During each dive our SCTLD response team applies the antibiotics to corals visibly infected with SCTLD but deemed likely to be saved through this intervention,” the department wrote on a recent social media post about the disease, adding that during October alone the team treated 2,430 corals. The disease was first spotted in Grand Cayman on the north wall in June 2020. Since then it has continued to spread around the island. By September, coral was affected on reefs from from Marty’s Wall along Seven Mile Beach all the way around the coastline to Beach Bay.

At the beginning of September it was also impacting reefs in George Town from Arm Chair Reef to Ron’s Wall, and on 26 September the disease was found at Eden Rock.

Despite the efforts of the DoE to raise awareness among the dive and boating community about the need to disinfect equipment and the efforts to apply the antibiotic treatment, SCTLD is having a serious impact on the local reefs, given its high mortality rate.

It affects more than 25 species of hard coral. Once coral is infected by SCTLD and begins to lose live tissue, it is likely that the colony will die within weeks to months, with a 60-100% mortality rate.

While scientists are beginning to learn a little about the disease, which was first identified in 2014 on Florida’s reefs before spreading through the Caribbean, the cause is still in question and there is no known cure. However, the antibiotic paste made from amoxicillin has some protective effect by slowing the spread.

Anyone wanting to become a SCTLD Volunteer Response Diver should email coral@gov.ky


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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (6)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Who do we contact to volunteer. Why are they not asking for help

  2. Anonymous says:

    Covid and our re-opening has taken all the headlines. This is a VERY important and thank you to DoE divers and ALL local divers who are trying or have tried to mitigate this fast-spreading coral disease.

    People don’t recognize that this disease will destroy our reputation for diving and snorkeling and thus some tourism, whatever portion of that sector we expect to return.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think there’s maybe a great deal more than just our reputation at stake 11:11 and we don’t really have any idea about how important. I checked DivaDivers website out which showed an effort to educate kids in the classroom, – it’s not fair, but unfortunately they might be our only hope, Obi One

  3. PhDivaDiver says:

    If an event of this magnitude affected the Amazon rainforest, environmental groups across the land would be aghast and starting efforts to mitigate/stop destruction. Even though we don’t see this ecosystem of corals and fish and sea habitats, it needs our attention, our efforts, and help from everyone. Our nonprofit, PhDivaDivercoralfoundation.org is assisting the DOE in efforts to raise awareness and it has provided financial support for the underwater effort. But DOE and the corals need your help, too. Thanks for reading.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Out of sight, out of mind, – anyone who isn’t seeing I hope they at least saw or will look for David Attenborough’s impassioned speech at Cop26. Thank you DOE for the commitment.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Just posting here as this story is getting no love.

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