The Coral World Ocean Park on St. Thomas and the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) have joined forces to fight against a new disease threatening the territory’s corals. Stony coral tissue disease (SCTLD), which is highly lethal, and results in rapid tissue loss. SCTLD affects approximately half of all stony coral species in the U.S. Virgin Islands including those listed as endangered species and important reef-building species.
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The agreement with Coral World means that UVI can free up space in its coral nursery to receive new sick corals by transferring rehabilitated corals to the ocean park for housing and continued monitoring, according to Marilyn Brandt, Ph.D., research associate professor who is leading the Coral Rescue and Restoration component of the Outbreak Response Plan at UVI. “This new collaboration expands our ability to successfully treat endangered corals that otherwise would perish from this virulent disease.”
Meanwhile, Coral World renovated a portion of its Marine Gardens Exhibit, which was severely damaged during the 2017 hurricane season, to make room for UVI’s rescued corals. The new Coral exhibit highlights the amazing work being done to address the STCLD outbreak in the Virgin Islands and educate the public on coral restoration efforts taking place in the region. The collaboration provides unique opportunities to both institutions, researchers, students and volunteers. coralworldvi.com, www.uvi.edu/research/center-for-marine-environmental-studies