Florida Reef Tract Coral Disease Outbreak
The Florida Reef Tract is currently experiencing a widespread and lethal coral disease outbreak. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is working with dozens of partners from federal, state, and local agencies, non-governmental organizations, universities, and members of the community to investigate and solve this problem.
Key factors of the outbreak include:
- Large geographic range. Over half of the Florida Reef Tract has been affected – over 96,000 acres.
- Duration of the outbreak. Disease has continued to spread for more than four years.
- Number of coral species affected. 20+ of approximately 45 species of Florida’s reef-building corals have been affected.
- Significantly high prevalence. Within certain species, disease is seen in 66-100 out of every 100 colonies surveyed.
- High rates of disease transmission and mortality. Once a coral begins to lose living tissue, observations show that the colony will die within weeks to months.
Priority coral disease response activities include:
- Coral disease investigation training on coral disease identification, ecology and investigation techniques.
- Coral disease surveys and fixed site monitoring to document the spatial extent, mortality rates and species-specific impacts.
- Strategic sampling and laboratory analysis to identify the presence of pathogens potentially responsible for the disease outbreak.
- Data management and epidemiological analysis to analyze relevant datasets and determine what factors may influence disease progression.
- Sampling plan and disease intervention workshops to determine priority data needs and potential management options to mitigate disease impacts.
- Intervention experiments and field trials to assess the effectiveness of treatment techniques and prevent the further spread of disease.