Ecosystem Health Issue – Coral in Hawaii

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Tue 6 May 2014
Source: KITV Honolulu [edited]

It’s called black band coral disease and it was first found in Kauai
waters in 2006.

Two summers ago marine photographer Terry Lilley began documenting the
die-off triggering a rapid response team of experts from the
University of Hawaii, National Marine Fisheries and US Geological
survey to spring into action.

Scientists pinpointed the cyanobacteria — the blue-green algae —
that has been attacking montipora rice corals.

They do know it is spreading, although so far the outbreak is just on
Kauai — most recently documented at Ke’e and Makua beach. “We really
hope we can control it before it spreads elsewhere,” said Frazer
McGilvray, aquatics administrator of the Department of Land and
Natural Resources [DLNR].

Now, the various agencies are preparing to launch a campaign to keep
the coral problem a top priority. It’s putting out the call for ocean
users to be on the lookout for the disease across the state.

“We do know of coral diseases that have wiped out 80 percent of the
coral in the Caribbean. So, this is potentially a very, very damaging
disease so we need to get a handle on it here,” said McGilvray.

Aquatic Resource staff have launched a new webpage [Reef Response]
they hope will be a go-to site for information, including links to the
“Eyes of the Reef” — a non-profit group tasked with reporting marine

“The Eyes of the Reef website is where you go to file your
observations and send in your photos. The Reef Response webpage on the
DLNR site is where all the information that is coming out of the multi
agency team [will be posted]. It’s a one-stop shop for information,”
said DLNR marine resource specialist Anne Rosinksi.

Summer is just around corner and scientists fully expect more of these
hotspots to crop up but they hope this approach and this website will
help keep the public on guard.

The state’s new aquatic resources boss admits his program is massively
understaffed and underfunded to deal with the problem on its own.

“In an ideal world we would have been on this 10 years ago but the
best thing we can say is, we are on it now and moving forward we know
we have to do this,” said McGilvray.

[Byline: Catherine Cruz]


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