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April 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 34, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Red Tide Is Gone, But Here Is Florida’s New Coastal Threat

from the April, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Every year, dive boats from Looe Key Reef Resort, on Ramrod Key in Florida, take 20,000 divers to Looe Key Reef, but that number is now being sharply reduced -- this crown jewel in Florida's reef system is on the verge of extinction. From the Lower Keys to Martin County in the north, Florida's Atlantic coast is suffering from stony coral tissue loss disease.

Although outbreaks of this disease have never been uncommon, its geographic range is unprecedented this time, as is its extended duration, rapid progression, high rates of coral mortality and the number of species affected. Coral bleaching and septic discharge emanating from Lake Okeechobee have taken their toll over the years, but stony coral tissue loss disease could be the coup de grâace for the coral on Looe Key Reef, and many others. Presumed to be caused by bacteria, this disease can be transmitted coral to coral by both contact and ocean currents. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary researchers are working on strategies for treating diseased colonies and identifying genotypes of corals that may be resistant....

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