17 | NOV | 2019
Mysterious disease threatens Mexico’s coral reefs
This ailment, which consumes the living tissue of coral reefs, exposing their skeleton, was first detected five years ago in Florida - Photo: James Cook University

Mysterious disease threatens Mexico’s coral reefs

18/01/2019
17:15
Adriana Varillas / corresponsal
Mexico City
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The new disease has affected 20 species of coral reef in Mexico's Puerto Morelos and Cozumel

A new disease that is causing tissue loss and the death of coral reefs around the world has now been detected near Mexico’s Puerto Morelos and Cozumel ports following investigations from the National Commission on Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and the Healthy Reefs Organization.

This ailment, which consumes the living tissue of coral reefs, exposing their skeleton, was first detected five years ago in Florida.

Now, the disease has affected the coral reefs of Quintana Roo, which constitute the second largest barrier reef in the world: The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (SAM).

However, specialists still don’t know whether the phenomenon was caused by “extreme environmental stress,” or the so-called “brown tide,” a sargassum plague that has accumulated in several Atlantic beaches.

“In Puerto Morelos, this epizootic (epidemic) has now become more important than ever though its causes have not yet been ascertained. Its effect on marine species and places seems to vary, though it entails a considerably larger impact than that which is normally observed,” the group claimed.

Healthy Reefs informed that, although diseases and coral bleaching have become increasingly widespread due to global warming and sewage pollution, this new disease is “unprecedented,” since it affects around 20 out of all 45 species of coral reefs in state shores, including the iconic brain coral, as well as the pillar and star corals.

Mortality rates from this disease are high. The corals affected die within a few weeks’ time and the disease now has a wide geographical range, expanding year by year.

Until now, the disease agent has not been identified. World-class scientists are currently studying tissue samples to identify the potential pathogens.
 

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