Spatial distribution and severity of dark spots disease in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

Corals are the building blocks of coral reefs as they provide countless marine organisms with protection and habitat. However, coral diseases are currently threatening coastal environments by causing tissue loss and, in some cases, death of corals. This destroys the habitats utilized by marine organisms and the biodiversity of given areas. Many factors contribute to the prevalence of coral diseases, but very little is known about the overall impact of anthropogenic stressors on diseases. Dark spots disease (DSD) is a common coral disease found in the Caribbean and was the subject of this study. Dark spots disease prevalence and severity was quantified utilizing video transects and a severity index approximately one kilometer north of downtown Kralendijk on the west coast of Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean. This data was then analyzed for any trends with regards to spatial location and depth. It was observed that DSD is typically more common and severe at deeper depths of 15 m than at shallower depths of 8 m, although no trends were observed in regards to spatial location and DSD distribution. Gaining a better understanding of DSD distribution paves the way for future studies to potentially understand causative agents of DSD; therefore, allowing for more preventative measures and mitigation processes to conserve the health of coral reefs.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science XV (Spring 2014)19: 79-85 from CIEE Bonaire.

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