Emily Hower, a research assistant at Nova Southeastern University doing field work on coral off Key West in Florida, bobs up out of the water and removes her diving mask. The news is not good.
Most of the pillar coral that her team have been monitoring for years are dead.Hower and her colleagues are on a race against time to find what causes a disease dubbed Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, which since 2014 has been raging like an inferno through reefs under the deceptively calm blue paradise of the Caribbean.
In just five years, it has wreaked devastation on the fragile coral ecosystems that are already at risk of extinction from the effects of climate change.Of 40 reef sites in the Florida Keys monitored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 38 are already affected.
“It is a huge disaster that’s going on underneath the waves,” says Karen Neely, a coral ecologist at Nova. “This is on the level of the Amazon burning. It is on the level of a disease that’s wiping out all of America’s forests.”Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease attacks the tissue of coral, transforming healthy, vibrant marine ecosystems into drab, dead worlds within weeks.
Read more here: The race to save the coral of the Caribbean | Macau Business