Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Virulent coral disease linked to ballast water from ships

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Stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) first identified in Florida in 2014 now sweeping through Caribbean.

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Researchers have linked a deadly coral disease that is ravaging the Caribbean Sea to the ballast water from ships.

SCTLD was first identified in Florida in 2014, but was then found in Jamaica, the Mexican Caribbean, Sint Maarten and the Bahamas. To date the disease has been found in 18 other countries and is spreading fast.

Judith Lang, scientific director at the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment project, which has been tracking the disease, said:

“The prevailing currents in the Caribbean push seawater to Florida and not in the reverse direction, and the predominant wind direction is westward. So human dispersal [to those three territories] in 2018 seems necessary.”

Krista Sherman, senior scientist at the Perry Institute and a co-author of the recently published paper that made the link, said there is a significant relationship between the disease and the proximity of major shipping ports.

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