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Stony Coral Tissue Loss (SCTL) Disease Response

Introduction

Florida Reef Tract has been experiencing an outbreak of a coral disease termed Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD). First reported off the coast of Miami-Dade County in 2014, this outbreak now spans from the northern extent of the reef tract in Martin County down to Sand Key in the Lower Keys. In long-impacted areas, SCTLD is considered an endemic disease. SCTLD impacts roughly half of Florida’s 45 stony corals, including key reef building species, five species listed pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, and many charismatic coral species. SCTLD has high species-specific prevalence rates and high whole-colony mortality rates, leading to significant declines of susceptible species on impacted reefs. Similarly-appearing coral disease signs have been reported elsewhere in the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Mexico, St. Maarten, the US Virgin Islands, and the Dominican Republic.


Response Efforts

Since 2015, DEP and numerous partners from federal, state and local governments, universities, nongovernmental organizations and the South Florida community have been collaborating and working together on a multifaceted response effort to:
  • Document the distribution, prevalence, severity and impacts associated with the disease outbreak;
  • Identify likely pathogens;
  • Understand potentially contributory environmental factors;
  • Experiment with treatments and other interventions;
  • Seek additional capacity and funding to support more comprehensive response efforts; and
  • Facilitate stakeholder assistance by creating a region-wide Reef Ambassador program and maintaining SEAFAN and C-OCEAN citizen science programs.

The response effort has been organized into specialized teams:

Citizen and Media Engagement Opportunities

The exact cause and contributing factors for this event will likely take years to identify; however, addressing other known coral stressors (i.e., water quality, turbidity and sedimentation, etc.) will increase the ability of the corals to recover. We can all do our part to increase the resilience of our reef systems.

Citizens

Media


Have you observed coral disease on the Florida Reef Tract?
Report coral disease observations anywhere in Florida to SEAFAN – The Southeast Florida Action Network

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Last Modified:
May 22, 2019 - 2:29pm

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