coral

Stony Coral Tissue Disease is affecting coral in waters surrounding St. Thomas.

Daily News Staff

The V.I. Reef Response Hunt for Coral Disease will take place Saturday through Sept. 7. Coral disease researchers at the University of the Virgin Islands Center for Marine and Environmental Studies are calling for the community’s participation in mapping the spread of disease.

Early this year, a new coral disease emerged on the reefs of St. Thomas. The characteristics of this disease closely match that of one called Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, which has been ravaging coral reefs in the Florida Keys for the last four years.

Researchers are unsure yet how it got to St. Thomas. The disease first emerged near Flat Cay, on the south west side of the island and has spread west as far as Savana Island with alarming speed. It has also started spreading east along the north side of St. Thomas and has recently been spotted off Santa Maria Bay. There have been mixed reports of the disease near Hull Bay.

The community can help refine the frontline of the disease by visiting their favorite coral reef and report back their findings. Reports of healthy corals and healthy reefs are just as important as reports of diseased corals. A coral disease identification workshop will be held tonight at Hull Bay Hideaway from 6 to 8 p.m. To join the hunt and learn more, visit https://viepscor.org/the-hunt-for-coral-disease.