Strategy for Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Prevention and Response at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (Version 1)

Coral reefs are an essential component of healthy and resilient marine environments, providing important ecosystem services such as tourism and fisheries. However, corals in the Atlantic and Caribbean region are currently experiencing an unprecedented epizootic. The newly described disease, termed stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD), is characterized by its large geographic range, extended duration, high rates of host mortality, and the substantial number of coral species affected. To date, SCTLD has not been observed in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS), located in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, but the coral species present and high coral cover within the national marine sanctuary suggest this location may be susceptible to and strongly affected by the disease. Therefore, FGBNMS has established this plan to identify research needs and institute prevention, education, preparedness, early warning, response, and intervention strategies. Information and training materials outlined in this plan will be updated as new SCTLD information becomes available.

Key Words

coral, disease, Gulf of Mexico, management, monitoring, response