Florida’s last remaining section of coral reef untouched by disease now appears to be impacted

Florida

(National Park Service photo by Rachel Johns, provided by the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The National Park Service indicated a case of stony coral tissue loss disease in Dry Tortugas National Park during its last survey on May 29.

The infectious, water-borne disease impacts hard coral species.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Dry Tortugas National Park was the only remaining section of Florida’s coral reef not suffering from the disease.

However, during a routine survey on May 29, according to the Research Institute, their team found white lesions commonly associated with the disease on the corals.

“The team immediately applied the most effective treatment available, an antibiotic paste, to the infected corals,” a Facebook post reads.

FWC said the disease appears to be concentrated near the southeast boundary of the park, near the location of Fort Jefferson and Garden Key.

While being cautious, the FWC said, “the last survey… showed no evidence of the disease at this location, so there’s hope this was caught early.”

The government said while the situation is urgent, everyone can do their part to assist, such as using reef-safe sunscreen and disposing of trash properly.

Those interested can learn more about stony coral tissue loss disease through the National Park Service.

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