[CDHC] outbreak report in Flower Garden Banks NMS

Cheryl Woodley Cheryl.Woodley at noaa.gov
Thu Mar 10 14:31:05 EST 2005

Dear CDHC Members,
I wanted to make you aware of an outbreak that has been reported in the 
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary by Emma Hickerson 
(Research Coordinator for the FGBNMS) and G.P. Schmahl (Sanctuary 
Manager).  The CDHC will be working with the Sanctuary to mount a 
coordinated disease investigation of the event.  Updates will be 
provided as new information becomes available.

The report is as follows:
During a recent cruise to the Flower Garden Banks NMS (February 23&24, 
2005), G.P. and I were alarmed to encounter a large area of coral on the 
East Flower Garden Bank (buoy #4) that appears to have been affected by 
white plague.  Unfortunately, only two dives were made on this site, so 
limited information was collected.  The area is (tentatively) estimated 
at approximately 50m in diameter, and affected colonies include multiple 
species:  /Diploria strigosa, Porites astreoides, /and /Montastraea 
franksi/.  This is the first occurrence of such a large area, multiple 
colonies, and multiple species being affected by coral disease at the 
FGBNMS.  The occurrence of white plague is not new to the FGBNMS, but up 
until now, the disease has been limited to individual isolated 
colonies.   Upon closer inspection of images taken by G.P. last week, he 
notes that there appears to be algae growth along the white margins of 
the disease - so we suspect the outbreak occurred late last summer, and 
has now slowed down during the winter months.

Cheryl Woodley, Ph.D.
Coral Health and Disease Program

Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research
Hollings Marine Laboratory
331 Fort Johnson Rd
Charleston, SC 29412
843.762.8862 Phone
843.762.8737 Fax
cheryl.woodley at noaa.gov

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