Coral disease researchers at the University of the Virgin Islands Center for Marine and
Environmental Studies is calling for the community to help hunt for coral disease.
Early this year, a new coral disease emerged on the reefs of St. Thomas. The
characteristics of this disease closely match that of one called Stony Coral Tissue Loss
Disease (SCTLD) which has been ravaging coral reefs in the Florida Keys for the last
four years. Researchers are unsure yet how it got to St. Thomas, but it is clear it is
having devastating effects on the reefs.
The disease first emerged near Flat Cay, on the south west side of the island and has
spread west as far as Savana Island with alarming speed. It has also started spreading
east along the north side of St. Thomas and has recently been spotted off of Santa
Maria Bay. There have been mixed reports of the disease near Hull Bay.
What You Should Know
- This disease has no known cure.
- It kills stony corals (brain coral and pillar coral) very quickly.
- It is harmless to humans!
Researchers need your help mapping the spread of the disease around
St. Thomas, VI. Coral disease researchers are working hard to find a way to slow the spread of this disease and potentially stop it altogether. It is critical they identify exactly how far the
disease has spread around St. Thomas. At this time, Hull Bay is suspected to be the
front-line to the north and Buck Island is the suspected front-line at the south. Because
the disease spreads so very quickly, verification must be done within a short space of
The community can help refine the frontline of the disease by visiting their favorite coral
reef and report back their findings. Reports of healthy corals and healthy reefs are just
as important as reports of diseased corals.
To join The Hunt and learn more, visit https://viepscor.org/the-hunt-for-coral-disease
It is not necessary for you to be an expert to make a report. Identifying coral disease is
very difficult. Many diseases look alike and are difficult to distinguish from predation or
other afflictions. We only ask for your best description or photos. Your eyes on the reef
are critical to this mission.
Participate in the Coral Disease Identification Workshop at Hull Bay Hideaway on
August 23, 2019.
For More Information:
VI EPSCoR http://www.viepscor.org
More information about The Hunt https://viepscor.org/the-hunt-for-coral-disease
Register for The Hunt https://viepscor.org/register-for-coral-disease-hunt
Coral disease locations map
VI Reef Response https://viepscor.org/vi-reef-response