BVI News

Deadly coral disease nearing the BVI waters

Online image of a coral showing signs of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease.

The Association of Reef Keepers will be hosting an awareness initiative on Saturday, March 7, on the growing issue of the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) which is nearing the British Virgin Islands.

According to the International Coral Reef Initiative website, SCTLD is a new lethal disease which affects more than 20 species of corals, especially the brain, pillar, star and starlet corals. The cause of the disease is yet to be determined, but scientists have proven that it spreads quickly causing high coral mortality.

Managing Director for the Association of Reef Keepers Dr Shannon Gore told BVI News that the disease has now spread to neighbouring islands in the region, including St Martin, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and St Thomas.

Disease could affect the BVI’s Blue Economy goals

She said the initiative is geared towards informing maritime users on the disease and how they can assist with helping to prevent its spread should it reach the territory.

“We’ve been working with Florida but also with St Thomas and Puerto Rico and I’ve been trying to get the word out here and [find out] if there is a treatment for it because it is eventually going to show up here. We just need people to be aware of it so that if somebody sees something, then we can go out and treat it before it spreads and wipes out everything here because we rely so much on our reefs,” Dr Gore stated.

She added: “It is going to end up killing everything here if we don’t do some kind of intervention. So, it is very important especially as the BVI moves into the ‘blue economy’ since if we don’t have the resources, we’re never going to have a blue economy.”

Origin of Disease

Dr Gore also revealed the origin of the disease, stating that it first was discovered off the shores of Florida, approximated six years ago.

She said: “back in 2014 a new coral disease started showing up off of Miami when they were dredging off the port of Miami, and scientist there was like we need to do something about this but it was kept very quiet because they didn’t want to risk anything with the dredging operation which was going on.”

“But when it started spreading north and south, it just kept on going and the scientist and reef managers realised that this was major issue because it was killing about half of the stony coral species and because Florida rely on the reef for recreation and tourism, they started to get very concerned,” Dr Gore further explained.

Meeting Information

In the meantime, today’s (March 7) awareness session is scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm at the Bamboushay Lounge on Tortola.

It will have special guests including Professor at the University of the Virgin Islands Dr Marilyn Brandt who specialises in marine and environmental studies, and Education and Outreach Coordinator from Department of Planning and Natural Resources (USVI) Kitty Edwards.

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  1. WTF!!! says:

    Even the reef got their version of Corona?? What is the world coming to??

    Like 11
    Dislike 5
    • Jdjdh says:

      The more wicked people get the more the environment changes. Wickedness and evil brings about argument, strife, disharmony among people, and also the environment. That’s why it has so many wars and diseases.

      The ancients knew this that’s why they wrote about it. The effects are clearly seen.

      If you want to learn something new read old old books. Everything comes back again in full circle.


      Like 10
      Dislike 5
      • Religious black people says:

        Religious black people reminds me of those little Naïve characters in a Disney movie or SpongeBob and Patrick living and bikini bottom. Never no scientific sense of reasoning

  2. Max says:

    As a little boy I was always astonished by the beauty of the corals, especially brain corals. Got my share of stings from fire corals as well but that never deterred me from snorkeling and enjoying the undersea world.

  3. Creation's Error? says:

    The world, its oceans. lakes and streams are dying, and we know who has been and is still killing them.

    Yet, at the end of the day, he still considers himself, though falsely, superior to all other men.

    Spends trillions of dollars on weapons of complete destrction, then dumps the waste materials into the sea and beneath the living earth, so he can maintain dominance of the earth that he is slowly killing, its resources and other people.

    Creation did errored in creating that specie, no doubt. Now there will soon be no underwater life.

    But, there will be cooperate accounts in the quadrillions, even as people go hungry, medicineless, homeless and hopeless.

    Wondering how history will judge when it’s all done and over.

    Like 7
    Dislike 2
    • Not and error...made for destruction! says:

      Read the book of obadiah they will soon be wiped off the face of the earth forever and the earth will be at peace and at rest. APTTMH.

      Like 6
      Dislike 2
  4. Jah bless says:

    The sunscreen lotion that the tourist are using is very dangerous to the corals and the fish

    Like 7
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  5. Diaspora says:

    The World Bank definition of the blue economy is the “sustainable use of the ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.” Traditional ocean uses include fishing, tourism, and marine transportation but the blue economy potential includes renewable energy, seabed extractive activities, marine biotechnology and bioprospecting and aquaculture.

    Moreover, the attack on the sea and the burgeoning blue economy come from offshore and onshore. The Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease and other coral diseases attack from offshore but runoff from shore that are laden with nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that contributes to significant algae bloom can threaten coral and cause oxygen depletion that impacts marine life.

    Consequently, steps must be taken to control the control of runoff from land after a heavy rain; runoff after a heavy rain takes oil, brake fluids, insecticides, pesticides , gasoline and other chemicals and dump it into the sea, causing harm to the ecosystem and the economy. Though it will be cost prohibitive and impractical to collect and treat all the runoff, administrative and engineering actions, coupled with behavioral change in the population, should be taken to improve the quality of runoff from land.

    In addition to chemicals, runoff also takes debris, ie, wood, plastic ……etc out to sea, causing pollution. Polluting and contaminating the sea severely impacts its beneficial uses, ie, fishing, swimming, snorkeling, diving and boating and other recreational activities.

    Like 17
    • Quiet Rebel says:

      The worst time to go in the sea around Tortola and the larger islands is after a heavy rain. The first flush takes all kinds of chemicals and debris out to sea, in addition to coastal erosion. After a heavy rain, Road Harbour is normally brown. If one position oneself offshore and look shoreward, one would amazed at the quantity and variety of debris floating around. This floating debris is in addition to the number of chemicals that may be dissolved or held in suspension.

      The VI must strike a delicate balance between the economy and the environment. More is not always between. The tourism model seems to be to bring in as many people as possible,ie, mass tourism. Too many people stress and strain environmental resources that needs to be protected, preserved and sustained for the future and for use, quiet and enjoyment of future generations, generations yet unborn. The VI must work to attract more long-term stay guests; on average, long-term visitors spend more per day than cruise passengers.

      Like 10
      • Noah says:

        You can only imagine! What makes us special is nature!
        What do motorcycles have to do with nature? What do burning dumps have to do with nature? What does all of our plastic waste have to do with nature. Let’s find some solutions. And what about that whistleblower law we was promised?

  6. chem trails says:

    tell them planes stop spray over we and we corals might survive

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