Image Credit: Graphics Reuters

As we have heard about a plague in human beings, that is infectious diseases caused by bacterias, it is an epidemic which could affect the complete area or a city or country if not controlled. Similarly, such plague is observed in Coral Reefs which is wiping out our underwater ecosystem, this is found at the coast of St.Thomas in the U.S Virgin Islands.

In September 2014, this disease was first detected at Virginia Key, the coral reefs are infected by Stony coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), the disease prompts rapid tissue loss, first, it appears as white patches that sprawl out across the coral.

Breaking the rule of never touching the Coral Reefs, a group of scientists is now tearing a reef apart in a feverish attempt to save some of its corals.

About half the coral species that make the coral tract and about one third that makes Carribean are vulnerable to get infected to SCTLD, at the same time the ecosystem is already under the effect of climatic change.

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, more than 40% of overall coral reefs are lost from 2013 till 2018, from Florida’s Upper Keys. Scientists are removing diseased species in order to stop the spreading of disease. Students and Researchers regularly dive around the university of Virgin Islands, near St.Thomas to identify the infected corals and remove them to save the healthy ones.

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease was first observed around Virginia key near Miami in 2014 and now it has spread to the northernmost extent of Florida coral reef by 2017 and has increased past key west to south.

“I have never seen anything that affects so many species, so quickly and so viciously — and it just continues,” said Marilyn Brandt of the University of the Virgin Islands, who is one of the researchers involved in the efforts to save the reefs near St. Thomas.

“All the diseases I’ve studied in the past could be considered like the flu. They come every year, seasonally, and sometimes there are worse outbreaks. This thing is more like Ebola. It’s a killer, and we don’t know how to stop it.”

“The coral basically liquefies from the inside out,” Brandt said.

“We tend to just study these events. We monitor them. We try to research what to do. We just watch it happen and assume that Mother Nature is going to be able to take the reins and everything’s going to be fine,” said Maurizio Martinelli, Coral Disease Response Coordinator at the Florida Sea Grant.“We can’t just watch these corals all die in front of us,” Martinelli said.



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