News & Blog

October 12, 2022: Sharing strategies for coral rescue in the Caribbean

Participants and experts at the MPAConnect peer-to-peer learning exchange “Planning for Coral Rescue as a Response to Stony Coral Tissue Loss in the Caribbean

October 12, 2022 – Press Release issued by MPAConnect Network Program.

Read Full Press release here [En español]

The first Caribbean regional gathering on coral rescue recently brought together some 50 managers and experts from 15 countries to plan how to rescue and restore stony corals in the face of devastation caused by coral disease.

With there being much already known about the restoration of other faster growing species of coral, a recent Reef Futures Symposium in Key Largo served as the venue for a dedicated workshop on planning for stony coral rescue. Regional coral experts shared about new approaches, latest science and evolving technologies to help save Caribbean stony corals that are otherwise succumbing to disease.

The presentations and materials used in the workshop will be available online at GCFI’s website and at AGRRA’s SCTLD resource hub The workshop  was co-hosted by MPAConnect, the leaders of the Caribbean Cooperation Team from Florida’s Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Response (NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and AGRRA) and Florida Sea Grant. We thank NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program for supporting MPA capacity building in the Caribbean and for helping to share knowledge and best practices for coral rescue in the face of SCTLD. For more information please contact

For more information on Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, visit AGRRA’s SCTLD resource hub

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease semi-annual newsletter – Summer 2022

Summer 2022: The first edition of the new semi-annual SCTLD newsletter, a collaborative product of Florida Sea Grant, NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, and the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Coral Disease Working Group is focused on sharing coral disease knowledge and experience across U.S. coral jurisdictions. The newsletter highlights major updates, innovations, and accomplishments in coral disease response, prevention, and preparedness. It is geared towards an external audience in hopes of increasing awareness about the impacts of the disease and the need to sustain and enhance response efforts.The US Coral Reef Task Force, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program and Sharing Coral Disease Knowledge and Experience across U.S. Coral Jurisdictions.

For more information on Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, visit AGRRA’s Coral Disease Portal.

Diadema Response Network: Concerns for Diadema – your help is needed

Newsletter published: March 29, 2022. (Para texto en español – haga clic aquí)

The Caribbean may be facing another widespread die-off of sea urchins. Diadema antillarum, also known as the long-spined sea urchin, is one of the most important herbivores on Caribbean coral reefs, removing algae and maintaining open space for coral growth.

In mid-February 2022, we first learned of extensive Diadema die-offs close to Charlotte Amalie Harbor in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Within a month, additional mortality events had been independently observed elsewhere in St. Thomas plus nearby St. John, as well as Saba, St. Eustatius, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Vincent, and perhaps other islands. See map below.

Diadema previously experienced a massive die-off throughout the Caribbean in the early 1980s. Sampling at the time was inadequate to determine the cause of their demise. Few Diadema populations have since fully recovered, resulting in algal-dominated states on many of the region’s reefs.

While we do not know what is causing these dispersed die-offs, the speed at which large numbers of sick urchins are now dying on affected reefs resembles the mass mortality event of four decades ago. We worry that a real crisis is developing in the Caribbean, where stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) has already caused widespread coral losses affecting about 34 coral species in 20 countries/territories.

Signs of sick and dying urchins include detaching from substrate through loss of control of their tube feet, followed by loss of spines, tissue loss and rapid death.

Healthy urchin
Photo credit: K. Marks
Sick, dying urchin
Photo credit: Kimani Kitson-Walters

Diadema Response Network

A region-wide collaboration–the Diadema Response Network–has quickly formed to track and try to understand the cause of this recent die-off of Diadema (and possibly other sea urchins). We need your help in reporting healthy, sick or dead urchins and in collecting samples to search for the causation of the die-off.

To find out how to help, read the full newsletter here: , and visit the Diadema Response Network page:

Contact us on for questions and more information related to Diadema.

Webinar March 14, 2022, 12-2 pm EDT, Florida SCTLD Response – Caribbean Cooperation Team

Caribbean Coral Rescue in the Face of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease: An Introduction.

The Caribbean Cooperation Team of Florida’s response to stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD), and MPAConnect, are pleased to invite you to join a webinar, “Caribbean Coral Rescue in the Face of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease: An Introduction” to be held on Monday, March 14th from 12:00pm to 2:00pm Eastern Time.

Efforts to rescue corals from reefs affected by SCTLD are being implemented in Florida and the wider Caribbean to support the future restoration of coral reef ecosystems as part of multifaceted responses to local disease outbreaks. We invite everyone working to combat the threat of SCTLD on their reefs to come and hear about these efforts as you consider whether or not coral reef rescue is an approach you wish to include in your SCTLD response efforts. 

Please join us and be prepared to ask questions and share your ideas and ambitions for coral rescue.

The workshop is being organized through the Caribbean Cooperation Team of the Florida SCTLD response effort and is being hosted by NOAAs Coral Reef Conservation Program, AGRRA and GCFI/MPAConnect.

This interactive workshop is being designed for all those who need to decide how to respond to SCTLD and are planning how to intervene or treat corals sickened by this deadly disease.

Simultaneous translation will be provided (English, Spanish, French).

Pre-Registration is not required.

Visit AGRRA’s Coral Disease portal for more information and resources on Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease.

AGRRA Newsletter – Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Updates – September 2021

Read AGRRA’s latest newsletter on Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease and discover more resources and recent updates related to this topic.

Featured in this issue

SCTLD Dashboard Updates

Information on updates to the Datasheets

SCTLD updates from USVI and Puerto Rico

Latest additions to the AGRRA Webinars page

Additional reports and Resources now available

Click here to read the full newsletter

U.S. Geological Survey – Coral Disease Represents Ecological Crisis Greater Than 1988 Yellowstone Fires

Story by Caroline Rogers, Ph.D., U.S. Geological Survey
Star Corals and Brain Corals with dead white portions, in Mennebeck Bay, Virgin Islands National Park/NPS, Jeff Miller

A disease that threatens an entire ecosystem lies below the surface of the sea – out of sight and out of mind.

The disease, which is rapidly killing corals in Virgin Islands National Park, is a crisis at least on the scale of the 1988 fires that roared across Yellowstone National Park and the continuing infestations of hemlocks and other old growth trees in Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah national parks.

But unlike the forest challenges, this malady is hidden where it can’t always be seen and it is killing corals, which are particularly slow growing; recovery, if it even occurs, can take a particularly long time.

This deadly disease is still killing over 20 species of corals. Stony coral tissue loss disease is now present in national parks in Florida and the Virgin Islands, including Biscayne National Park, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, and found most recently, in May, in Dry Tortugas National Park.

Click here to read the full story on National Parks Traveler.

Aggressor Joins Turks & Caicos Reef Fund for Coral Conservation
Photo: Aggressor Adventures – Volunteer divers with the newly adopted coral ladder

Aggressor Adventures has recently joined forces with the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF) to conduct a coral reef conservation initiative from the Turks & Caicos Aggressor liveaboard.

During the course of the trip, the volunteers were trained in the identification of 14 different coral species and the diagnosis of the diseases that might be infecting them. Working together, the TCRF dive leaders, trip customers and Aggressor staff completed six critical Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) surveys, as well as 40 roving diver surveys to document and quantify impacts from stony coral tissue loss disease on the reefs of the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI).

Read more about the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund, the trip and their findings here.

June 4, 2020 – MPAConnect and AGRRA Launch Caribbean Coral Disease Dashboard

The English language version of the Press Release appears below. Click for Spanish version/Comunicado de Prensa versión en Español

June 4, 2020As stony coral tissue loss disease spreads in the Caribbean region, a new online tool is tracking its progression and recording the efforts made to control and respond to the threat that it poses to Caribbean coral reefs.

Stony coral tissue loss disease spreads rapidly and affects some of the slowest-growing and longest-lived reef-building corals, including the iconic brain corals, star corals and pillar corals that provide habitat, shelter and nursery areas for numerous other marine organisms. The loss of these corals affects overall coral reef health and can have cascading impacts on the ecosystem services they provide – like food security, tourism economies, and coastal protection for local communities.

Natural resource managers and their partners across the Caribbean region are actively exchanging information and sharing best practices about coral disease monitoring, treatment and outreach.

“Last year, Caribbean coral reef managers from 17 countries and territories came together in Key West to learn about stony coral tissue loss disease. They suggested the creation of a regional dashboard to share the status of the disease within the Caribbean,” explained Emma Doyle, MPAConnect Coordinator.

“In response to this request, MPAConnect (a partnership between the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute and NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program) and the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment Program (AGRRA) collaborated on the development of a GIS-based dashboard as a new online tool for managers.”

Intended to assist with response to stony coral tissue loss disease, the dashboard contains topline statistics that can be viewed at a glance. It also contains insightful information from many hours of in-water coral reef monitoring that can now help managers to shape their response to the disease.

“Maps on the dashboard show the presence of stony coral tissue loss disease around the region, a time lapse of its progression and which coral species have so far been most affected by stony coral tissue loss disease,” commented Patricia Kramer, Program Director of Ocean Research and Education Foundation.

“A new tool is also available that helps to indicate where corals that are most susceptible to SCTLD are located based on existing AGRRA coral reef monitoring data,” she added.

The dashboard is made possible with support from the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program and Ocean Research and Education Foundation. It’s hosted by AGRRA using Esri ArcGIS software.

Interactive Caribbean SCTLD Dashboard – English & Spanish :

For more information please contact or

For more resources on SCTLD, visit the AGRRA Coral Disease Outbreak Portal.

May 19, 2020 – Reef Resilience Network “Treatment and Intervention Approaches for SCTLD” webinar

We are sharing the news from our colleagues at the Reef Resilience Network for their upcoming webinar on May 19, 2020, 2pm EDT.

Register for the webinar HERE

This webinar focuses on the Treatment and Intervention Approaches for SCTLD. It will feature talks from Reconnaissance and Intervention Team co-lead Karen Neely, Val Paul, Marilyn Brandt, and Mike Favaro of Ocean Alchemistics, LLC.

An outbreak of an epizootic coral disease, known as Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), is severely impacting coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic-Caribbean region. While the disease was first identified on Florida’s reefs in 2014, it has now spread to nine countries and territories in the Caribbean. Coral reef scientists and practitioners in the affected locations have been working to develop and apply existing and new intervention techniques in an effort to halt the spread of the disease, maintain reef structure and function, and protect rare species. Join our webinar to hear from leading experts on their experiences with different SCTLD treatment approaches as well as exciting new efforts to develop alternative treatment options using natural ingredients and probiotics. Presenters include Dr. Karen Neely from Nova Southeastern University, Dr. Marylin Brandt from the University of the Virgin Islands, Mike Favero from Ocean Alchemists LLC, and Dr. Valerie Paul from the Smithsonian Institution.

This webinar is co-hosted by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on behalf of the Caribbean Cooperation Team of the Florida SCTLD Response Effort and the Reef Resilience Network.

All of the Reef Resilience Network webinars are recorded and posted on their website for viewing any time after the webinar. They can be accessed at: