Probiotic Bag Field Test (From Smithsonian Marine Station Video)

(CNS): As scientists continue to study the causes of tissue loss disease in stony coral, they are developing a variety of measures to control its infestation.last week workshop For frontline scientists in the fight against SCTLD, Grand Cayman University of North Carolina Wilmington showed new treatments and the results of their work.

UNCW team led by Dr. Blake Ushijima, developed a probiotic treatment. Very early results suggest it is more effective than antibiotic pastes currently applied to infected corals, offering hope that this deadly disease can be combated. Although in its very early stages, there are some indications that a deficiency or lack of certain bacteria may be making corals vulnerable to a still-mysterious disease.

Cayman News Service
Dr. Blake Ushijima at Cayman workshop

Ushijima told CNS last week that the scientific community is still struggling to figure out what causes SCTLD and how it infects corals. A simultaneous impact on corals may be exacerbated by rising sea temperatures. . Some of these pathogens are harmful to corals, others are harmless or helpful.

Studying what’s undersea is great for scientists who want to use what they already know about corals to try to protect them, while learning as much as they can about this latest and worrying threat. “There are a lot of variables I’m trying to study, and I’m doing all of this underwater in my diving gear,” he noted.

Ushijima says, just like humans, corals need good bacteria to be healthy, and this is probably why the probiotic mixture they developed works. By studying corals that appeared to be less affected and more resilient, he said he began to realize they had more useful bacteria, and made plans to feed disease-infected corals with probiotics. I got

Kelly Pitts from Smithsonian Marine StationWorking with Ushijima, said it was difficult to come up with a way to put enough of the probiotic on the coral and stick it long enough to help it. I applied it in paste form in the same way antibiotic mixtures were applied around it, but I found it to be much more effective when put in a bag.

“Whole colony treatment seems to work better than any other method ever attempted,” she says, prompting divers to place a very large weighted bag over the coral heads and I explained how to fill them with processing.

Given that SCTLD is a new pathogen, scientists in the region are collaborating and sharing information. They are racing against time to save already stressed reefs and contain the virus. Although the disease currently appears to be confined to the Caribbean and western Atlantic, there are concerns that it could pass through the Panama Canal and begin infecting corals around the world.

This week’s demonstration was part of a four-day seminar focused on how to tackle SCTLD. This included Cayman’s first ever Coral Fest, organized by the Ministry of the Environment, which aimed to raise local awareness of the vital importance of coral reefs to the Cayman Islands and the many threats to their survival.

In a brief speech at the event, Prime Minister Wayne Panton said he started scuba diving as a teenager after getting a summer job at a dive shop. He noted that efforts to protect coral reefs need to be stepped up given the number of threats facing them. added. This is because of its importance to the culture, heritage and tourism of the Cayman Islands.

Watch the video below to learn about our efforts to apply coral probiotics.

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