Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease

SCTLD antibiotic paste application. Photo © Nova Southeastern University

How To Report Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease

If stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) is suspected in your location, it is imperative to report the disease and share pictures of diseased colonies to confirm it is SCTLD. The Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Database is collecting reports of disease across the Caribbean, including pictures and other information, that are easily viewable on their website.

 

Stony coral tissue loss disease is a disease affecting over 20 species of hard corals in the Caribbean. It is currently causing significant damage to coral reefs in Florida and beginning to be reported in other Caribbean islands. While diseases are not uncommon on coral reefs, SCTLD poses a particularly significant threat to Caribbean reefs because of its large geographic range, extended duration, high rates of mortality, and large number of coral species affected.

Stony coral tissue loss disease is suspected to be caused by bacterial pathogens and can be transmitted to other corals through direct contact and water circulation. Many current efforts are under way to identify disease agents, relationships with environmental factors, strategies to treat diseased colonies, and identify genotypes of corals that are resistant. In conjunction with these activities, many resources are being developed to assist managers and other stakeholders with identifying and responding to the disease.

The resources provided here will be continually updated and are the result of collaborations amongst many partners working to combat SCTLD. Click to learn more about the agencies and organizations involved in this effort.

General Information

The resources below provide a broad range of information on the disease, with many providing up-to-date descriptions of current knowledge and research.

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Interventions

  • Workshop Recording: Florida SCTLD Response/Caribbean Cooperation Team Virtual Workshop on Treatment and Intervention of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease: Approaches, Lessons Learned and Alternatives (3 hours)
  • Dominican Republic Disease Action Plan (Spanish) - Developed for coral reef ecosystems in the Dominican Republic, this plan contains a monitoring design to evaluate the status of diseases and coral bleaching, and describes specific actions to monitor, communicate, manage, and design interventions to prevent or ameliorate the loss of corals due to SCTLD or coral bleaching.
  • SCTLD Template Monitoring and Response Action Plan for Caribbean Marine Natural Resource Managers (MPA Connect) – Provides detailed information and protocols for monitoring the disease, intervention treatments, prevention methods, and more.

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Website Portals

The following websites have been developed by partners and offer a variety of information and resources on the disease.

Identifying the Disease

This coral disease is generally characterized by several lesions of dead coral tissue that occur across a coral colony and spread rapidly to cause whole colony mortality. Below are resources to help correctly identify stony coral tissue loss disease compared with other causes of coral mortality.

    • MPAConnect Guide to Detect SCTLD on Caribbean Coral Reefs (Print Version or Digital Version) – One-page summary with pictures of susceptible coral species and actions managers can take.
    • SCTLD Disease Identification PowerPoint (Nova Southeastern University) – Provides numerous pictures of disease corals for 14 different susceptible coral species.
    • Field Identification Cards (Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA, and the National Park Service) – Photos of diseased coral species that can be laminated and used in the field.
    • Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Stages of Coral Mortality – Provides description and slideshow with images of different conditions and causes of coral mortality to help distinguish with the disease.

Monitoring the Disease

If stony coral tissue loss disease is suspected in your location, it is imperative to report the disease and share pictures of diseased coral colonies to confirm the disease. The AGRRA database is currently collecting information on disease reports and can help confirm SCTLD as the cause of mortality. The other resources listed can be used for monitoring the disease.

    • Roving Diver Datasheet – Printable data sheet template for reporting SCTLD.
    • SCTLD Census Swim Survey – Provides detailed instructions for divers on monitoring and collecting data on SCTLD.

Rapid Response

Because stony coral tissue loss disease is a disease that spreads quickly, it is critical to have a plan already in place for how you will respond to the disease if sighted in your location. Management agencies in Florida have prepared several resources below describing their SCTLD response plan and structure.

Community Engagement

Community members that are actively engaging with coral reef resources should be informed of stony coral tissue loss disease in areas where spread may be likely and once the disease has been confirmed. The following resources are available as examples of how to inform community members about the disease and engage them in response efforts.

 

Please email resilience@tnc.org if you’d like to include additional resources on stony coral tissue loss disease.

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