A Mysterious Disease Is Detected In Florida Coral Reefs

Posted: May 17 2018, 7:43am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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A Mysterious Disease is Detected in Florida Coral Reefs
Credit: Zack Gold/UCLA

The disease is destroying large part of world's third largest coral reef system

Researchers have found that a mysterious new disease is spreading across coral reefs in Lower Florida Keys, which is a delicate ecosystem already suffering from the impact of climate change and coral bleaching. The disease was detected during a routine dive to collect coral samples and researchers suggest that it puts in jeopardy the southern end of the world’s third largest coral reef.

"It is just heartbreaking for us because it's such an iconic reef. I can't sleep at night because I think about it and what else can we do." Biologist Erinn Muller, who leads coral health program at Mote Marine Laboratory, said.

Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth that harbor more than a quarter of all marine species. But these systems are under pressure from many factors including warming water, nutrient runoff, tourism and fishing. The mysterious coral destroying disease is the latest to join the list. The disease first appeared off in Virginia Key in 2014 and continues to spread north, south and west. In the past four years, the disease has already impacted a large part of Florida Keys, which is located off the southern coast of Florida. Researchers believe the disease is a bacterial infection and carried by ocean current, but they don’t know anything more about the disease.

"We have this one unique event and nobody was there figuring all these things out as it was happening," said Muller. "We'll do our best to go back and recover information, but as of right now I'm not convinced we'll ever know."

An extensive research is currently underway to identify the bacterial infection. But researchers have so far been unable to reach a conclusion because they could not grow suspected pathogens and apply it to healthy coral in lab environment.

“It's just so hard when you talk about the marine environment because of how connected it is,” said Muller. "It's just mind-boggling to try to develop something that's large enough to have a real impact."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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