The killer and mysterious coral disease that first struck Florida in 2014 has now reached the outer reefs of Key West and beyond, scientists say.
Now called stony coral tissue loss disease, the outbreak reached Looe Key in the Lower Keys last spring and seemed to contain itself.
But by December, it had landed at American Shoal and two weeks ago made it to the reef off Key West.
“We were really hoping the disease was going to fade before it got to these areas,” said Andrew Bruckner, research coordinator for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. “We’ve only seen it on four reefs, the areas in our sanctuary preservation, the outer areas that have the mooring buoys. None of this has shown up on the reefs close to shore. It’s only right now at this outer reef system.”
Bruckner said the disease has been spotted only on a few corals and has been spotted at Eastern Dry Rocks, about seven miles southeast of Key West.
The disease’s origin remains a mystery but researchers believe bacteria causes the disease and that it can be transmitted to other corals through direct contact and water circulation.
It carries […]