A healthy colony of Porites porites on the Vauxhall reef, Barbados. P. porites is one of the species found susceptible to stony coral disease in Florida
Stony coral tissue loss disease, first reported in Florida in 2014, is moving quickly according to a report in Science News and has reached the US Virgin Islands; view:
A mysterious coral disease is ravaging Caribbean reef
BY CASSIE MARTIN 6:00AM, JULY 9, 2019 on Science News
It is also affecting deeper water corals:
Holstein is using ocean current data and other factors to forecast where the disease might show up next. Early results suggest that another U.S. Caribbean territory, Puerto Rico, should be worried. Divers in May confirmed that the outbreak is inching toward the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, with star corals about 17 kilometers offshore and 40 meters deep already pocked with white lesions, says Tyler Smith, who oversees the reef monitoring program at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas.
Acropora cervicornis Feb 1, 2019
In March of 2015 I observed Acropora cervicornis
in a small area on the Reef Front of the Vauxhall Reef.
According to a report by R. MacLean and H.A. Oxenford on surveys of Acroporoids on the west coast of Barbados in the summer of 2015, “although no A. cervicornis colonies were found on the fringing reefs surveyed in this study, several colonies are known to exist in the deeper patch reef area immediately seaward of some of the fringing reefs (e.g. Vauxhall reef, see annotated photographs of D. Patriquin at: http://versicolor.ca/reef/).
Photo Jan 31, 2019
Yesterday, I snorkelled the reef front area off of Holetown. As well as funding some quite healthy coral communities at about 15-20 ft depth, I found clusters of the black sea urchin Diadema antillarum
at one spot.
The GPS on my camera wasn’t working well. The approximate location is shown below.
UPDATE July 1, 2023: In the Vauxhall Reef area this past winter I observed healthy Padina, but not on the reef flat where it had once been abundant, rather it was on rocks near shore in the beach area.
Going through my recent and older photographs of the reef flat on Vauxhall Reef, I realized that Padina sanctae-crucis was absent in my recent 2019 photos, but was present in photos taken in each of the winters of 2015,2016, 2017 and 2018. So
I checked the area out over the last couple of days, and also traversed nearby fringing reefs over about 800 m towards the north.
I don’t know what that means, but on Jan 30, 2019 asked on the CORALL Facebook page whether anyone else has noticed the plant recently.
It’s not necessarily bad, for example, the loss of P. sanctae-crucis might be due to increased feeding by nearshore herbiverous fishes.
The first place I head for when I return to Barbados is a little section of the Vauxhall Reef where in 2015, I found some colonies of Acropora prolifera, the Fused Staghorn Coral I always wonder” Are they still there? They were/are and seem to be thriving, still.
Here’s an example: