Why are corals being treated?
In 2014, in Florida, a new coral disease was discovered, called Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD). This is the most deadly coral disease that scientists have ever seen - affecting over 20 different species of corals, spreading rapidly, and producing whole colony mortality. In early 2020, this disease was discovered in Vieques.
According to UF/IFAS Extension and Florida Sea Grant, two to three percent of corals are normally affected by coral diseases. With the emergence of SCTLD, for susceptible species only, the prevalence rate has ranged from 65 to 100% at varying sites in Florida. Vieques is not too far off from that trend. Luckily, 100% has not been witnessed yet.
Note: Colored is healthy, white is dead
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
wHAT IS THE TREATMENT?
The treatment is a mix of a mucosal adhesive called CoralCure and amoxicillin.
Learn more about CoralCure here:
It was created by Ocean Alchemists specifically to combat SCTLD.
How is this initiative being funded?
At this time, there is not a constant source of funding. Departamento de Recursos Naturales has provided us with several rounds of treatment. Our community has been very generous, paying for not only treatment, but other supplies as well. Crystal Clear has paid for coral scouting and other costs. Also, since November 2021, Crystal Clear contributes $5 per snorkeling client to the initiative.
Why Do you have to have a permit to do this work?
Treating a coral requires:
-proper identification of species for both disease identification and cataloging
-Distinguishing between other coral diseases and bleaching
-Constant reporting and data collection for the Department of Natural Resources
How Expensive is the treatment?
The CoralCure and amoxicillin for 20 to 40 corals, depending on size, is about $300. This cost does not include captain fees, gas, tanks, tank fills, syringes, tags, nails, rulers. slates, dive gear, and more. All of the work done by Sarah Elise and Emily to this point has been voluntary.
Is this bleaching?
No, this is not bleaching. Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease is not caused by rising sea temperatures. Scientists have not pinpointed the origin of SCTLD yet, but they believe that it is associated with man-made sources of pollution.
The biggest difference between bleaching and SCTLD is that a coral can recover from bleaching, but a coral affected by SCTLD will never recover. What's dead is dead.