Mysterious Disease Causing Major Concerns As It Spreads Across Great Florida Reef


    The Great Florida Reef is among the largest coral reefs across the globe, boasting a length of 160 miles. It’s the only living coral barrier reef in the United States but, unfortunately, it’s in jeopardy of being destroyed.

    According to the Miami Herald, a new mystery disease has reached the Florida Keys, and is threatening to destroy the Florida Reef.

    “It is just heartbreaking for us because it’s such an iconic reef,” said Erinn Muller, Mote Marine Laboratory biologist. “I can’t sleep at night because I think about it and what else can we do.”

    In efforts to protect the reef, scientists have used epoxy band-aids, amputated sick coral, and even set up underwater “fire breaks” in order to protect the reef and contain the disease outbreak.

    Over the last two centuries, the historic Florida Reef has already lost had of its coral, as well as dealing with worsening climate change issues and bleaching events.

    The mystery disease first appeared near the Virginia Key back in 2014 and started spreading across the Northside of the reef. In November of 2017, it seemed as if the disease has stopped spreading, but bacterial infections have seemingly brought the disease back in full force.

    WMNF adds that the disease could be so damaging, it could actually lead to the extinction of several coral species within the reef.

    “We lost 98% of the brain coral Meandrina meandrites,” said William Precht, director of marine and coastal programs for Dial Cordy and Assocaites. “When you go out and swim on the reefs of Miami-Dade County today it would be a very rare chance encounter that you would see some of these three or four species… which is really catastrophic.”