Caribbean coral reefs are declining rapidly due to climate change, anthropogenic factors and infectious diseases. Although disease is a common occurrence on coral reefs, a new disease called Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), has had an unprecedented effect on coral reefs in the Caribbean. This disease started in 2014 in Florida and, over the past six years, it has spread rapidly to most of the Florida Reef Track and neighboring countries. Currently the disease has spread to sixteen countries in the eastern Caribbean and the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR).
Stony Coral Tissue Loss is a disease that spreads rapidly between stony corals. It affects more than 24 species of corals and is characterized by tissue loss and almost immediate mortality of affected corals. It may be transmitted through direct contact, divers, ballast water, and ocean currents. The scientific community is still working to determine the pathogen (s) responsible for the disease.
On September 23, a possible source of infection was reported on the southern coast of Roatán. After conducting the inspection on September 24th and 25th, it was determined that the disease is already present in the reefs of Roatán, specifically in front of the Flowers Bay community. It is imperative to be able to treat affected colonies with strategic antibiotic applications and collect samples for laboratory analysis. The situation is urgent, but there is still time to safeguard our coral reefs.
HOW TO HELP
In order to prevent the disease from continuing to be transmitted and considering what was reported by Roatan Marine Park (RMP) and the Bay Island Conservation Association (BICA), in their capacity as co-managing organizations of the area and validating their technical-scientific recommendation, the competent authorities made the decision to establish quarantine in the Flowers Bay area, so diving activities are temporarily prohibited in that area. All actors in the insular and coastal zone are asked to be vigilant against the spread of this disease and support us by following the following steps:
Report any suspected case of SCTLD by documenting the site of occurrence and taking a photograph. These can be sent to SCTLD@roatanmarinepark.org
Maintain good buoyancy in the water and avoid touching corals.
Follow the decontamination procedures for your diving equipment.
Avoid diving in sites with sources of infection.