In the News

Feb 9, 2024
Stronger Hurricanes and Climate Change in the Caribbean Sea: Threats to the Sustainability of Endangered Coral Species
EA Hernandez-Delgado et. al. 2024. Sustainability 2024, 16(4), 1506; “An increasing sea surface temperature as a result of climate change has led to a higher frequency and strengthening of hurricanes across the northeastern Caribbean in recent decades, with increasing risks of impacts to endangered corals and to the sustainability of coral reefs.”

Oct 12, 2023:
Coral Bleaching Alert
Barbados Fisheries Division “Due to recent high water temperatures it is predicted that bleaching is likely to occur over the next few weeks.” Also view Links: Coral Bleaching

Sep 12, 2023:
Newly deceased Caribbean reef-building corals experience rapid carbonate loss and colonization by endolithic organisms
Scientific paper by Medellin-Maldonado et al., 12 Sept 2023 in Communications Biology “Coral mortality triggers the loss of carbonates fixed within coral skeletons, compromising the reef matrix. Here, we estimate rates of carbonate loss in newly deceased colonies of four Caribbean reef-building corals. We use samples from living and recently deceased colonies following a stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) outbreak. Optical densitometry and porosity analyses reveal a loss of up to 40% of the calcium carbonate (CaCO3) content in dead colonies. The metabolic activity of the endolithic organisms colonizing the dead skeletons is likely partially responsible for the observed dissolution… The dissolution rate depends on the relative abundance of coral species and the structural properties of their skeletons, yet we estimate an average reduction of 1.33 kg CaCO3 m−2, nearly 7% of the total amount of CaCO3 sequestered in the entire system.”

28-31 Aug 2023:
Recommended Strategies to Protect Parrotfish Populations in Barbados
Youtube video of presentation by Mr. Christopher Parker and Dr. Shelly-Ann Cox at CRFM Scientific Conference 28-31 Aug, 2023. Comprehensive, discusses negative and positive impacts of parrotfish in relation to the state of the reef (healthy, declining etc).

Aug 15, 2023:
Another avoidable danger for coral reefs
by Andrew Cohen in the Washington Post “In recent years, coral reefs in Florida and elsewhere in the Caribbean have been devastated by outbreaks of two waterborne diseases: stony coral tissue loss disease and an unnamed sea urchin disease caused by a newly described microorganism. The latter has eliminated more than 90 percent of the urchins from some sites; with the urchins gone, algae overgrow and destroy reefs. Both diseases spread partly through ballast water that ships take aboard to adjust buoyancy, and both were likely introduced to Florida and the Caribbean in ballast discharges.”

July 14, 2023:
Study shows coral affected by stony coral tissue loss disease can produce viable offspring
by PeerJ for,

May 19, 2023:
In living colour – local action for coral reef restoration in Barbados
On UNDO: SGP The article features a phot0-essay by  Courtney Forde, Volunteer and past Vice President of the Coral Reef Restoration Alliance (CORALL).

Sargassum Studies Under Way To Seek Out Opportunities
Julia Rawlins-Bentham on May 19, 2023 “Barbados is currently undertaking studies to seek out new opportunities and ways to use Sargassum seaweed.

May 12, 2023:
Barbados Receives CREWS At Folkestone
Julia Rawlins-Bentham on . “Barbados has received a coral reef early warning station (CREWS) as part of a regional project entitled Enhancing Climate Change Resilience in CARIFORUM Countries. The country joins The Bahamas, Belize and Trinidad and Tobago in having the $139,000 station deployed in its waters, approximately one kilometre off the Folkestone Park and Marine Reserve in Holetown, St. James…Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit, Dr. Leo Brewster, explained that the CREWS station was a met ocean buoy, which took meteorological data and examined environmental oceanographic parameters that were important for coral reef health. “The buoy is recording now. It sends up its data live. When we get the data we can put it on our website. We are actually building a website on our webpage to allow the public to have access to the data,” he said. Dr. Brewster further outlined that the buoy would also provide information on the impact of runoff in the Holetown, St. James area, turbidity changes, and an opportunity for schools interested in environmental studies or geography to use the actual data information and integrate it into their own curricula and programmes, using live data.”

The 2022 Diadema antillarum die-off event: Comparisons with the 1983-1984 mass mortality
Alwin Hylkema et al., 2023, in Coral Reefs (Scientific Paper). “The 1983-1984 die-off of the long-spined sea urchin Diadema antillarum stands out as a catastrophic marine event because of its detrimental effects on Caribbean coral reefs…In late January 2022, a new mass mortality of D. antillarum was first observed in the U.S. Virgin Islands…By the end of April, the islands of Barbados, Martinique, the Dominican Republic and St. Lucia had reported mass die-offs of D. antillarum… The full extent of the 2022 D. antillarum die-off event is not currently known…Whereas the 1983-1984 die-off advanced mostly with the currents, the 2022 event has appeared far more quickly in geographically distant areas. First die-off observations in each jurisdiction were often close to harbor areas, which, together with their rapid appearance, suggests that anthropogenic factors may have contributed to the spread of the causative agent.”

Apr 6, 2023:
Asst. Prof. Sarah Gignoux-Wolfsohn is Helping Develop Probiotic for Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease
By Brooke Coupal for UMass Lowell, “Diving off the coast of San Andrés, the researchers will search for healthy corals among those infected by the disease and collect fragments to bring back to Gignoux-Wolfsohn’s lab. There, she will investigate what bacteria are abundant on the corals that are resisting the disease. “Any bacteria that is naturally more abundant might be helping those corals survive,” she says.” Related: Newly discovered probiotic could protect Caribbean corals threatened by deadly, devastating disease, by Smithsonian for, Apr 6, 2023. Article references this scientific paper: Chemical and genomic characterization of a potential probiotic treatment for stony coral tissue loss disease, by Ushiijma et al., 2023 in Communications Biology

Feb 2, 2023:
Scientists hope lab-grown coral can save endangered Florida Keys reef (video)
BY MANUEL BOJORQUEZ CBS Evening News Feb 2, 2023

Jan 13, 2023:
Protecting Tobago from Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease
Prepared by: Hannah Lochan for, Jan 13, 2023. SCTLD had not arrived there yet; concersn about cruise ship ballast water expressed. Also view: Transmission of stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) in simulated ballast water confirms the potential for ship-born spread Michael S. Studivan et al., 2022 in Nature.

Oct 31, 2022:
Spotting hopeful signs for coral health in Barbados’s backyard
Under WHERE I WORK in Nature 31 Oct 2022 “In his diving surveys, ecologist Henri Vallès is finding that some coral populations might be on the mend.”

May 13, 2020:
Heat-evolved microalgal symbionts increase coral bleaching tolerance
P. Buerger et al., 2020. Science Advances 13 May 2020: Vol. 6, no. 20, eaba2498 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba2498 “Coral reefs worldwide are suffering mass mortalities from marine heat waves. With the aim of enhancing coral bleaching tolerance, we evolved 10 clonal strains of a common coral microalgal endosymbiont at elevated temperatures (31°C) for 4 years in the laboratory. All 10 heat-evolved strains had expanded their thermal tolerance in vitro following laboratory evolution…these findings demonstrate that coral stock with enhanced climate resilience can be developed through ex hospite laboratory evolution of their microalgal endosymbionts”

Nov 30, 2019:
Underwater Speakers Help Revive Dying Coral Reefs, Study Finds
Trevor Nace on Nov 30, 2019. “A recently published paper in Nature Communications highlights research focused on the impact of playing sounds around dead or dying corals. The findings were a pleasant surprise in the future conservation and recovery of coral reefs.

Mar 21, 2019:
Researchers embrace a radical idea: engineering coral to cope with climate change
By Warren Cornwall in Mar. 21, 2019 ,