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Coral Tissue loss disease #187367
03/14/2019 07:53 PM
03/14/2019 07:53 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 9,205
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Offline OP
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SXMScubaman  Offline OP
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Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 9,205
Auburn, WA
Thought this may be of interest. Nature Foundation put this out.
Warning for all scuba divers and dive schools!

After the Nature Foundation St Maarten recently established the presence of ‘Tissue Loss Disease’ on several local coral reefs in October 2018, the Foundation was able to establish through further investigation that in many locations some 90% of coral is either infected or dead. The disease is a relatively new issue that has been plaguing coral reefs in the Atlantic Basin for the last few months. The coral reef disease manifests itself through the creation of white blotches on stony coral, eventually leading to the loss of tissue and eventual death in the coral colony. The disease affects 20 different species of coral and is able to kill colonies within several weeks or months. Unfortunately the spread and lethality of the disease is being facilitated by poor water quality at several locations surrounding the island.

The Nature Foundations recommends all divers and dive schools to be vigilant to not spread the disease. The disease appears to be water borne and may potentially be spread by divers their gear according the Florida Disease Advisory Committee. They advice scuba divers in the Caribbean and Florida to soak their gear in a 5% chlorine bleach solution for 30 minutes, and rinse well after, especially when moving in between locations. We also advise all divers to be aware of their fins and to not touch any diseased or healthy coral; as you will probably transmit the disease to other corals!

Warning for scuba divers;
1) In order to protect our coral reefs and prevent the spread of the disease a 100% NO TOUCH policy is in effect on all St Maarten dive sites. Scuba divers touching St Maarten coral reefs could risk a fine.
2) All scuba diving gear leaving our island (or being used on another island) should be soaked in a 5% chlorine bleach solution, be rinsed in a lot of fresh water and dried in the sun. This is mandatory, Dive Schools will need to forward this message to their customers, and we recommend visiting divers to use the gear of our dive schools.
3) Please do not use any single-use plastic item on board of the boat or close to the ocean. Single-use plastics are not allowed to enter the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area dive. Recently the Nature Foundation also located large amounts of single-use plastics on local reefs, research has found a link between plastic and disease on coral reefs. The likelihood of disease increases from 4 percent to 89 percent when corals are in contact with plastic and it suggests that ocean waters with lots of plastic waste might also carry other pollutants that could also be contributing to higher rates of coral disease; therefore please leave the single-use plastics at the supermarket!
We hope that together we can stop the spread of this disease any further, as the situation is very critical at the moment and we don’t want islands around us to experience the same conditions!!

The disease first appeared in Florida off the Miami-Dade County area in September 2014. The outbreak area has since progressed 175 km to the northern limit of the Florida reef tract and southwest to Looe Key in the Lower Keys. Numerous coral species (except acroporid coral) have been afflicted, disease prevalence has reached 80% of all colonies present at a site, and a number of coral diseases have been observed. Meanwhile, sick and dying corals are found on Jamaican and USVI reefs with similar signs of disease and overlap with the reports from Florida. Also in Mexico a severe outbreak of coral disease affecting similar species and exhibiting similar patters as those in Florida has been recorded. Sint Maarten can unfortunately now be added to the list of affect areas for tissue loss disease.
The Nature Foundation is continuously monitoring the disease in St Maarten waters and is counting on your support.

#SCTLD #coraldisease #saveourcorals #savemarinelife #saveourreefs #tissuelossdisease #coralreefs #savecorals #savereefs #nopollution #nosingleuseplastic #noplastic #nosewage #saveourcoral #naturefoundation #natureisourfuture

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Re: Coral Tissue loss disease [Re: SXMScubaman] #187379
03/14/2019 11:17 PM
03/14/2019 11:17 PM
Joined: Oct 2017
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SammyM Offline
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Thanks again, Scubaman for following up on this. To me, it still sounds like stoney coral bleaching caused by a combination of warming sea temperatures and high nutrient levels in the water. I would like to see them identify or name the pathogen responsible, but they may not know precisely what this is. Several years ago coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific were being attacked and decimated by the Crown of Thorns Starfish, but that's obviously not the case here. I'll have to dig into this further to see what I can find out. I hope they can get this turned around soon.

Re: Coral Tissue loss disease [Re: SXMScubaman] #187382
03/15/2019 05:53 AM
03/15/2019 05:53 AM
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 1,300
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PelicanPirate Offline
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As a scubadiver, maybe humans should quit hanging around coral reefs. Dirty gear, sunscreen, fins, spearing.

We have great cameras to show us what is there.

Re: Coral Tissue loss disease [Re: PelicanPirate] #187402
03/15/2019 10:31 AM
03/15/2019 10:31 AM
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 44
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jborosara Offline
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Originally Posted by PelicanPirate
As a scubadiver, maybe humans should quit hanging around coral reefs. Dirty gear, sunscreen, fins, spearing.

We have great cameras to show us what is there.


I am also a diver - we don't touch reefs - we don't spear them and we do everything we can to avoid having our fins kick them - I don't even wear sunscreen when I dive (and I am a melanoma survivor) because of the issues with the chemicals - I wear spf shirts and ridiculous looking big floppy hats.

Pictures may provide some idea of what is there - but there is nothing like seeing it in person - that's sort of like saying Orient beach is beautiful in pictures, so who needs to actually go there.

On the whole, divers are more conservation minded than most folks - most dive boats don't use single use plastics (bottled water and the like) and I've never been on a dive boat that allows divers to touch or take anything. Part of learning to dive is learning how to control your body so that we don't disturb the fragile ecosystem.

Re: Coral Tissue loss disease [Re: SXMScubaman] #187404
03/15/2019 10:46 AM
03/15/2019 10:46 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 9,205
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Offline OP
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SXMScubaman  Offline OP
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Posts: 9,205
Auburn, WA
Very well said. More sunscreen enters the water from swimmers and snorkelers than with divers. It's those first time snorkelers from vacationers and cruise ships that do a lot of damages to the reefs and ecosystems. .

Re: Coral Tissue loss disease [Re: SXMScubaman] #187407
03/15/2019 11:31 AM
03/15/2019 11:31 AM
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 44
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jborosara Offline
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Originally Posted by SXMScubaman
Very well said. More sunscreen enters the water from swimmers and snorkelers than with divers. It's those first time snorkelers from vacationers and cruise ships that do a lot of damages to the reefs and ecosystems. .


I will be honest - If I'm not diving, I use a lot of sunscreen and I reapply liberally... don't want a recurrence of melanoma.. BUT, I shower it off before swimming in the ocean - which is why we like Orient - most of the places have a shower

Diving is addictive - I haven't been since November of 2018 and am going through withdrawls - unlikely to make it to the Caribbean before next winter, so the gulf coast is gonna have to do this coming summer... going to a meeting in San Diego in the fall, but I can't do 50 degree bottom temps anymore - just too old... I live no where near an ocean - and am not fond of lake diving for the same reason.

Re: Coral Tissue loss disease [Re: jborosara] #187413
03/15/2019 12:22 PM
03/15/2019 12:22 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 9,205
Auburn, WA
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SXMScubaman  Offline OP
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Auburn, WA
I'm turning 72 this May and will be diving on my birthday along with other days with my dive buddies on St Maarten. It's become a tradition for us. I know what your talking about. I got my certification in Puget Sound with a 7 mil farmer john and dive in Cabo in about 60 degree water. No desire to do cold water dives anymore.

Re: Coral Tissue loss disease [Re: SXMScubaman] #187736
03/18/2019 02:36 PM
03/18/2019 02:36 PM
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 44
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jborosara Offline
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we will be back to SXM next year -

which dive operator do you recommend and which sites are not to be missed - already know diving in SXM is not as good as Caymans or Bonaire - but I am not that choosy - just like to be under the warm water...

have considered doing dry suit certification - but for diving where we live (Northern Arkansas), waters usually not warm enough to consider until May or June when the outdoor temps are generally high 80's and low 90's - and that's an awfully warm temp for a dry suit on land... there's a cool dive park in southern Illinois that we like too, but again, there's the cold - and the bottom temps there are 42 degrees year round - it is spring fed...

Re: Coral Tissue loss disease [Re: jborosara] #187738
03/18/2019 02:44 PM
03/18/2019 02:44 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 9,205
Auburn, WA
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I have been using Dive Adventurers ( www.stmaartendive.com )out of Simpson Bay Resort and Marina for the last 20 years. Have over 280 dives with them. Wouldn't think of using another dive operation in St Maarten. They will take you to all the better dives sites like Proselyte, Carib Cargo, Moon Hole, Groupers, The Maize, Fish Bowl, Cable Reef and others along with a new recently sunken boat I hope to dive this May.

Re: Coral Tissue loss disease [Re: SXMScubaman] #187754
03/18/2019 05:02 PM
03/18/2019 05:02 PM
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 44
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jborosara Offline
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we had planned to dive in Feb 2017 but had some family issues that kept us from making the trip then - have still not been back to SXM since Irma and really itching to go - I may end up going solo at least a few times as I love it more than my husband does - hopefully someone else will be solo too -

will dive in Destin this summer - it is driving distance from us and there is a new underwater sculpture garden there - we use Emerald Coast in Destin

looking forward to reports from your upcoming dives

Re: Coral Tissue loss disease [Re: jborosara] #187767
03/18/2019 07:07 PM
03/18/2019 07:07 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 9,205
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Offline OP
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SXMScubaman  Offline OP
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Auburn, WA
I usually post a slide show of my dive pictures when I get back. It's my underwater trip report.


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