STONY CORAL TISSUE LOSS DISEASE
Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, a new threat to Caribbean reefs
Coral reefs in the Mesoamerican Reef are in peril due to the spread of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD). This is an unprecedented disease with high mortality rates that threatens the biodiversity of the MAR. It is characterized by rapid tissue loss that leaves an intact white skeleton and affects over 24 different species of stony corals.
The RMP team has worked around the clock to engage local stakeholders in the early detection of SCTLD, hosting 9 workshops to teach coral identification and how to recognize SCTLD. Thanks to these efforts SCTLD was detected in its early stages of the disease on Sept. 24, 2020 in Roatan. In terms of observations, a bimonthly monitoring has been conducted with partners and thanks to a collaboration with Healthy Reefs Initiative we were able to assess presence and absence of the disease in Guanaja, and Cayos Cochinos using AGRRA bar drop methodology.
Currently the disease has only been identified on Roatan's reefs. The team has also educated the public, local stakeholders, and dive operators through informational presentations and our social media platforms. Regarding management actions, we have conducted a stakeholder meeting to begin the process of drafting the National SCTLD Response Plan. After the detection of the disease, we collaborated with government institutions and other NGO’s with documents to aid the development of press releases, and even a presidential decree. We hope that in 2021 we can continue our work alongside partners to slow the spread of this deadly disease to other healthy sites.
seen this tag?
Divers and snorkelers in Roatan can assist in monitoring the effectiveness of experimental treatments on diseased corals. You’ll find hundreds of tags on treated corals around Flowers Bay, West Bay, West End, Sandy Bay and Mudhole.