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Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease

Underwater image of a coral with tissue loss disease

Florida's Coral Reef is experiencing a multi-year outbreak of stony coral tissue loss disease. While disease outbreaks are common, this event is unique due to its large geographic range, extended duration, rapid progression, high rates of mortality and the number of species affected. Scientists are still investigating the cause of the disease, which can be transmitted to other corals through direct contact and water circulation. Researchers are working to identify potential causes and relationships with environmental factors, strategies to treat diseased colonies, and identify individual corals that are potentially resistant to the disease. Learn more about stony coral tissue loss disease, scientist and reef manager’s response to the disease, and how you can help.

What is being done to combat the disease? 

  • Coral rescue to preserve Florida’s coral genetic diversity in land-based facilities for future restoration efforts. Learn more about the Coral Rescue Project 
  • Intervention experiments and field trialsto assess the effectiveness of treatment techniques and prevent further spread of disease. Learn more about the Reconnaissance and Intervention Team 
  • Coral restoration trials to determine when and where to outplant new corals. Learn more about the Restoration Team. 
  • Coral disease monitoringto document the spatial extent, mortality rates and species-specific impacts. FWC has two long-term monitoring programs that have captured the impacts of stony coral tissue loss disease – the Coral Reef Evaluation and Monitoring Program (CREMP) and the Disturbance Response Monitoring (DRM). Please explore the links to learn more about the programs and look at the data.   
  • Strategic sampling and laboratory analysisto identify pathogens potentially responsible for the disease outbreak and identify methods of transmission. Learn more about how some of these samples were collected and analyzed by the FWRI Histopathology and Coral Research Programs.     
  • Caribbean-wide cooperation to share knowledge and resources to reduce further spread of the disease. Learn more about the disease in the Caribbean.  
  • Improve overall coral reef environmental conditions to ensure that disease intervention and restoration actions are successful. 
  • Data managementto analyze relevant datasets, organize data, and facilitate data sharing between agencies. Learn more about the Data Management Team.  
  • Florida Sea Grant, the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment, MPAConnect, and many of our partners areoffering coral disease trainingon coral disease identification, ecology and investigation techniques.  
  • Technical disease intervention workshopsto bring researchers and reef managers together to determine priority data needs and actions to respond to the disease.  

 Additional information on disease responses: