FACT SHEETS -
CORAL REEF IMPACTS
22 CORAL DISEASE
• About 30 diseases of corals have been recognised since they were first discovered more than 30 years ago. There is still little known about the causes and effects of coral disease although diseases of coral can be caused by bacteria, fungi, algae and worms.
• Scientists have seen increases in coral disease on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) over the last 5 years. However, only about 7 diseases have been discovered on the reef and therefore they are not seen as a major threat to the health of the GBR.
• Some scientists have put forward evidence that increases in disease may be linked to rising sea temperatures as diseases seem to occur more in the summer.
• There is also some evidence that nutrient and sediment run-off from the land may allow some coral diseases to flourish.
• Reef Check Australia identify and monitor Black Band Coral Disease and White syndrome. Black band disease is characterised by a black band or line. The coral tissue on one side of this band is healthy, while on the other side shows where the coral tissue has recently died. All white band and white plague diseases are placed in the one category ”White syndrome”. Collecting data on coral disease will increase our knowledge about the extent, frequency and causes of coral diseases.
• CRC Reef (Coral diseases): http://www.reef.crc.org.au/discover/coralreefs/Coraldisease.htm
• The Australian Institute of Marine Science ((Coral diseases): http://www.aims.gov.au/pages/about/communications/backgrounders/20020907-coral-disease.html
• The Public Library of Science (PDF article on coral disease) http://biology.plosjournals.org/archive/1545-7885/5/6/pdf/10.1371_journal.pbio.0050124-L.pdf