In December of 2018, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection approached FORCE BLUE about a deployment to monitor and curb the spread of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease in the reefs around Florida. Partnering with scientists from NOVA Southeastern University, FORCE BLUE Veterans deployed to an 80-mile stretch of reef along the Florida Keys to study and treat the afflicted corals.
Coral Disease Intervention
Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease is a sickness that affects fully half – 22 out of 44 – of the coral species found in the waters off eastern Florida and the Florida Keys. Particularly susceptible are the boulder corals that form the building blocks of natural reefs. The disease completely destroys the soft tissue of infected corals, resulting in death, often within a matter of weeks.
A Fighting Chance
Over the course of 50 in-water days from December 2018 to June 2019, FORCE BLUE divers treated 4,000 coral lesions on almost 2,000 coral heads using the antibiotic amoxicillin and a chlorine-epoxy resin. Though there is no cure for the disease as of yet, treatment showed an 80+% success rate in slowing the spread of the epidemic, and FORCE BLUE remains committed to giving the reefs of Florida a fighting chance to recover and thrive.