Another outbreak of coral disease hits the reefs of Kāneʿohe Bay, Oʿahu
Researchers at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), an organized research unit in the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology have discovered an outbreak of coral disease called Montipora White Syndrome (MWS) in Kāneʿohe Bay, Oʿahu.
In March 2010 an outbreak of a disease called acute Montipora White Syndrome
Corals are the very foundation of our coral reef ecosystem and are under threat from overfishing, land-based pollution and emerging coral diseases. Successive disease outbreaks with little intervening time for growth and repair of the corals are particularly damaging to reefs. Dr. Aeby’s team has been studying Montipora white syndrome for the past several years and has determined that MWS is an infectious disease that only affects rice corals (Montipora sp.). Laboratory experiments suggest that Montipora White Syndrome is caused by pathogenic bacteria. Work is underway to understand environmental variables, such as increased seawater temperatures associated with climate change or land-based sources of pollution that may contribute to these recurring disease outbreaks.
Aeby observes that coral disease outbreaks were predicted to occur more frequently on reefs from chronic human stressors and global climate change, she states “it appears that these predictions are becoming a reality for the reefs of Kāneʿohe Bay. Fortunately for Hawaiʿi, resource managers have taken a proactive approach to these threats and have already developed a rapid response plan for coral bleaching and disease events.” Reef resources play an important role in the culture and economy
Eyes of the Reef Network – www.reefcheckhawaii.org/eyesofthereef.htm