Black band disease hits Great Barrier Reef

A recent article in the ABC news tells of the seasonal dynamics of ‘black band disease’ affecting plating corals on the inshore great barrier reef.  Yui Sato, the lead author of the journal article painstakingly documented 485 coral colonies across an almost 3 year time period. Interestingly, the results seem to point as light as a driving factor of black band disease progression in infected corals – click here to read the full article from the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

bbdABC News, 6th May 2009

An epizootic – the wildlife equivalent of a human epidemic – of black band disease has appeared in the Great Barrier Reef, say Australian researchers.

Scientists, who have been monitoring the progress of the disease, say this is the first time an epizootic of this type has been documented in Australian waters.

Black band disease has decimated coral populations in the Caribbean and researchers are concerned it could spread here.

Marine biologist Yui Sato of James Cook University in Townsville and colleagues report their findings in the latest issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biology.

Sato, who is a research student with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, says the black band disease flourishes in warm seawater, killing coral as it eats through tissue, exposing the fragile skeleton.

He is concerned that predicted warmer ocean conditions caused by global warming will lead to longer outbreaks and faster tissue loss. (Read more)

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