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TCI: DECR expands scope of Reef Fund reef rescue

#TurksandCaicos, April 9, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Reef Fund has been given more marine territory to execute its coral-saving intervention by the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources.

“The treatment trials were conducted at six locations around the TCI – three on the reefs of Providenciales, two on those of Grand Turk and 1 on the reefs of Salt Cay. With up to eight months of monitoring on 122 assessed colonies we are seeing a 93 per cent success rate,” informed a press release issued on Wednesday.

The project had a slow start; hesitation hampered implementation as the proposed treatment for the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease was a relatively unproven method; only tried in Florida.  Now, there is suggestion that the antibiotic ointment is not harmful to other marine life.

“To this date no untoward effects have been observed – fish would occasionally nibble on the ointment during treatment, but seemed to ignore it after the first nibble. There are more studies on this happening regionally and TCRF hope to help the studies in any capacity that we can.”

The approval and expanded scope will mean more reefs restored and SCTLD stunted in these waters.

“These results are very encouraging and the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources has recently granted TCRF a research permit to expand the treatment effort.  The treatment effort with the antibiotic ointment will continue and will target large colonies.  They will be tagged with special tags instructing any divers observing these colonies to take photos of the colony and send them to TCRF at SCTLD@tcreef.org.  This will assist in our ongoing monitoring effort of the treatment program. The goal with the expanded treatment effort is to target and save old, reproductive colonies of the most susceptible species so as to preserve the reef’s genetic diversity and ability to repopulate.”

Untreated coral are also monitored; the ending for these were not happy explained the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund.

“Most of the control colonies that were not treated died within a few days or weeks, some of them continue to display slow disease progression. Species specific efficacy ranged from 50 per cent to 100 per cent with most species seeing 67 per cent efficacy.

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