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The Peninsula’s coral reef, endangered by deathly “White Syndrome”

by Yucatan Times
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A new disease, known as white syndrome, threatens the reefs of the Peninsula and for the last four years, has become a great threat to the corals of the Mexican Caribbean.

Jesús Ernesto Arias González, researcher and head and founder of the coral reef ecosystem and ecology laboratory of the Sea Resources unit of the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav) Mérida unit, stated that this outbreak was identified for the first time in Florida in 2018 and reached the Mexican coasts for at least four years.

During an interview, he indicated that white syndrome is a disease of hard coral tissue loss, a condition that is currently harming the Mesoamerican Reef System, which represents the second largest barrier reef in the world, and about which there is still little information.

He specified that, since then, this disease has greatly affected the reefs of the Mayan Riviera, which, in addition to protecting the coasts of the Peninsula from meteorological phenomena such as hurricanes, are also reproduction and growth sites for hundreds of species that are the food of thousands of families and their main source of income.

He added that, in addition to this, the increase in temperature has caused coral reefs to present thermal stress, aggravated by climate changes caused by El Niño phenomenon.

Arias González explained that the reefs are built by corals, made up of colonies of polyps that live in symbiosis with microalgae, which build the structure with calcium carbonate obtained from the water.

The color of coral, when they are healthy, is dark; however, when they adopt a light or whitish tone, it is a sign that they are stressed or ill, according to the researcher.

Finally, he explained that white syndrome causes the death of the polyps (living tissue of the colonies), leaving the skeletons exposed and creating an effect of white spots that end up spreading to the entire colony until it is completely killed in a few weeks.

TYT Newsroom

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