Dive Deeper:

Identify and Prevent Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease

By: Natalia Hurtado (MSc, Research Associate at PIMS/CEI) and Casey Harris (MSc, Research Associate at PIMS/CEI) 

In 2014, researchers in Florida identified a new coral disease called Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD). This disease has impacted the entire Florida Reef Tract and has spread to other locations in The Caribbean, including The Bahamas. In late 2019, researchers at the Perry Institute for Marine Science first documented SCTLD off Grand Bahama, and in June 2020, confirmed its presence in New Providence. It’s not uncommon for corals to get diseases but stony coral tissue loss disease is proving to be much more virulent than other diseases because of its long range of spread, high mortality rates, and large number of species affected.

This educational video (also available in Spanish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prwoaHyKgGY&t=15s) will help you identify and report SCTLD, as well as decontaminate gear/boats if you come in contact with it.

The exact pathogen causing the disease is unknown but researchers suspect that SCTLD is caused by bacterial pathogens that can be transmitted to other corals through direct contact or water circulation.

A brain coral with Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease

Calling all divers, fishermen, and ocean activists to monitor and help slow the spread of SCTLD in The Bahamas

It may be difficult to distinguish SCTLD from other coral diseases, but infection generally starts at the base of the colony with soft coral tissue dying and a band of diseased tissue progressing across the surface. However, the pattern of disease progression/appearance is variable between species. We developed several infographics to help you properly identify and report SCTLD if you think you’ve spotted it in The Bahamas, as well as prevent its spread.

If you suspect corals are infected with stony coral tissue loss disease, please report those sightings on our website http://www.perryinstitute.org/reportsctld by following the steps in the infographic below. If you can, please take photos/videos of sick colonies, record disease locations, and fill out the Sighting Submission Form.

Identify SCTLD
Report SCTLD
Stop the spread of SCTLD

If you’ve been diving, snorkelling or fishing in areas with SCTLD, we recommend you decontaminate your bilge water and/or gear.  In doing so, you can prevent the spread of this disease to healthy reefs. For more information, check out our infographic above to learn  what products we suggest and how to use them.

We hope you will take action with us to combat this disease and preserve the beauty and biodiversity of Bahamian reefs for future generations. If you have questions, please contact us at coral@perryinstitute.org.

A SCUBA diver conducts a coral reef survey (Photographer: Katie Storr)
Detén la propagación
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