This study investigates the relationship between yellow band disease (YBD) infected Montastrea annularis coral colonies and its potential to spread by contact with transect tapes, as commonly used in research. M. annularis plays an important role in maintaining reef complexity and diversity in Bonaire as it is a structural reef-building coral, yet the recent spread of YBD has created an degrading the reefs (Bruckner 2006). The study has two primary goals, to investigate whether the use of transect lines had the potential to transfer YBD from one coral to another, and whether a simple cleaning protocol can reduce this transfer. Transects placed on the YBD infected colonies of M. annularis had the most percent bacterial growth, though not statistically significant. It also showed that even though specific species of bacteria were unable to be identified, the transect lines are indeed capable of carrying bacteria. Although the difference was not significant in this study, cleansing treatments may have an effect on lessening the growth of bacteria.
yellow blotch disease
Yellow band disease (YBD) is a bacterial infection affecting corals of the Montastrea annularis species complex. Recent mortality rates of M. annularis spp. on Bonaire have risen due to YBD and other biotic and abiotic factors. The loss of staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, the preferred habitat of the threespot damselfish, Stegastes planifrons, has caused the damselfish to inhabit M. annularis spp. Unfortunately, M. annularis spp. are slower growing corals that take longer to reach reproductive maturity and are thus less able to withstand S. planifrons biting their tissues and creating algal gardens on exposed skeleton. This weakens the coral and makes it more susceptible to diseases like YBD. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between S. planifrons gardening and YBD. Sample sites of healthy and diseased colonies of M. annularis spp. were established across depths at Yellow Sub dive site in Kralendijk, Bonaire. Sites were monitored for damselfish inhabitants and signs of coral biting. Pictures were taken of each site to chart the progress of the disease over the course of the study, and ImageJ was used to determine percent cover of healthy versus unhealthy coral. No significant relationship was found between S. planifrons activity and YBD, although S. planifrons seemed to select healthy colonies. The increase of damselfish populations and their detrimental effects on Bonaire’s reef calls attention to the need for fishing regulations of predatory species and a heavier focus on the conservation of A. cervicornis thickets.
In 2004, as part of a GEF funded project entitled “Coral Reef Targeted Research and Capacity Building” (CRTR), to assess the current status and future of these important communities, six groups of researchers looked at different aspects of the dynamics and degradation of coral reefs worldwide (i.e. Coral diseases, bleaching, connectivity, remote sensing. One of these groups, the Coral Disease Working Group (CDWG), assessed the number, prevalence, distribution, impacts and host range of coral diseases and their spatial and temporal variability in the wider Caribbean.
Curacao was selected as one of six localities spread over the Caribbean, and one of two southern localities. Results presented here represent our preliminary approach and surveys in Curacao. Surveys were done in permanently marked transects using the CARICOMP sampling protocol. Overall, coral diseases in these sites had, on average, a relatively low prevalence (5.74 ± 3.7%) at the community level (all colonies from all species included). Curacao was the second country with higher disease prevalence of the 6 countries visited across the Caribbean during the Summer-Fall of 2005, the weight of this prevalence coming from one of the two sites surveyed on the island. The most common diseases observed were dark spots syndrome (DSS), white plague type II (WP-II) and secondary infections by ciliates. Noteworthy was the lack of bleaching in these two reef localities and in general, in the Netherland Antilles when most of the eastern, northern and western were suffering the worst bleaching event on record for the Caribbean. Bleached colonies were only mild paling patterns and the overall prevalence was below 1.0 %. Octocoral diseases were almost two times more prevalent (9.6 ± 16.9%) than coral diseases in Curacao.