Thursday, August 18, 2011

Human Disease Threatening Caribbean Coral

Elkhorn coral, "among the most important reef-building species in the Caribbean," is facing exstinction because of something rarely seen before.  A human bacteria has now infected the coral.  It took years of study to prove that this bacteria, found in the human gut, was what has been causing white pox in elkhorn coral.  And with evidence showing where the disease is coming from a solution has been found to help stave off the disease threatening our beautiful ecosystem.  The solution: updating waste water systems.

Unfortunately, this solution is pretty pricey.  It costs one Florida community $70 million dollars to update their system.  The price was more than worthwhile since the old system was causing problems for the community's tourist population in addition to the harm it was doing to the Florida Keys.  Though this has resulted in the removal of a lot of human waste from the seas where elkhorn coral are found, there are still many other American cities and Caribbean islands that would need to follow the same lead to prevent this disaster from continuing to hit the elkhorn population.  Sadly, not all communities can afford to spend that kind of money on updating waste facilities--updates that would benefit more than just the elkhorn coral.

Read more about this and listen to more of the story on All Things Considered by NPR.

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