The Carmarbi Marine Research Station has reported that Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease has reached the southern Caribbean island of Curacao. Dubbed the deadliest and most devastating coral disease ever recorded, SCTLD first appeared off the Southeast Coast of Florida in 2014 and has been spreading southward, wiping out Caribbean corals ever since.
The disease destroys the soft tissue of at least 22 species of reef-building corals and kills them within weeks or months of becoming infected. That’s a third of all coral species on the island of Curacao, and the cause is still unknown.
SCTLD manifests as rapidly expanding lesions on the coral. Sometimes the infection exhibits a number of white spots across a colony that grow outwards and fuse. Small corals may be killed within weeks while larger individuals may survive for months or even a year or two, according to the Caribbean NGO. It’s having a devastating effect on the coral biodiversity of the Caribbean (which is already facing many other threats,) and the Carmarbi Marine Research Station is asking all those diving around Curacao to let them know if they see any signs of the disease, when, and where.
Much work is being carried out in public aquaria and scientific institutions to try to save the Caribbean’s now endangered hard coral species, from arking them, to captive spawning them, to finding a cure for the disease.
Please send observations and pictures to [email protected]. Mention where you dove, what depth you spend most of your dive, and when you visited a particular site.
For more info on SCTLD: https://www.agrra.org/coral-disease-outbreak/