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TCRF Reports Successful Trial in Treating Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease

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#TurksandCaicos, April 8, 2021 – Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) is a highly deadly, fast moving disease that affects approximately 30 species of hard corals on the reefs of the TCI.  First observed on the reefs of South Caicos and West Caicos in early 2019, the disease spread quickly to reefs off NW Point, Grace Bay and continues to spread eastward past Pine Cay recently being observed on the reefs off North, Middle and East Caicos.

Scientists in Florida have been dealing with this disease since 2014 and through extensive research identified the antibiotic, amoxicillin, mixed with a specially developed, proprietary ointment base was the most effective option for stopping the progression of this disease.  The antibiotic paste is pressed into the coral tissue at the edge of a disease lesion.  The ointment base expands in sea water to fill the ridges and valleys of the coral skeleton slowly releasing the antibiotic into the coral tissue and minimizing the amount of antibiotic leaching into sea water. 

This is an incredibly labour-intensive, time-consuming and expensive way to deal with the disease but with Florida still seeing infection spread 7 years later, doing nothing is not an option. This disease has the power to severely reduce the populations of live stony coral cover. A recent paper from the School for Field Studies on South Caicos reports an approximate 60% reduction in live coral coverage since the disease outbreak in early 2019[1]. In 2020 TCRF were granted a permit by the TCI Government to test this treatment to determine its effectiveness on TCI reefs and to watch for any untoward effects on the marine environment.  TCRF began trials of the antibiotic treatment and recently completed and filed its final report of those treatment trials with DECR.

The treatment trials were conducted at six locations around the TCI – 3 on the reefs of Providenciales, 2 on those of Grand Turk and 1 on the reefs of Salt Cay. With up to 8 months of monitoring on 122 assessed colonies we are seeing a 93% success rate. 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% to 100% with most species seeing 67%++ efficacy. 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.

“We are very excited to see such a high efficacy rate for our treatment program,” said Alizée Zimmermann, Executive Director of the TCRF.  “Our results are consistent to slightly better than seen in other parts of the Caribbean where this treatment is being used.  It is now considered to be the standard of care for treating SCTLD by the scientists studying the disease.”

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.

In addition, TCRF is teaming up with Ocean Alchemists, the company that developed the special ointment base for the amoxicillin, to test a new, non-antibiotic treatment.  This treatment option utilizes a proprietary formulation of naturally occurring products and it is impregnated into hemp rope which is then applied around the edge of a lesion.  TCRF will be comparing the effectiveness of this new treatment option to the current standard of care, the amoxicillin ointment.  Testing of the new treatment should begin within the next month.

“None of us want to use antibiotics in the marine environment, but the alternative would result in the loss of many decades to hundreds of years old coral colonies on the reefs that protect our islands from storm surge and wave action,” said Mrs. Zimmermann. “So we are excited to be involved in conducting research on potential alternative therapies that don’t involve antibiotics.”

About TCRF

Founded in 2010, the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is the only active environmental advocacy organization in the TCI. It is an organization that provides funding for education, research and conservation programs to individuals, organizations and agencies that help to preserve and protect the environment of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Our goal is to have at least 85% of all funds raised through voluntary contributions from divers and snorkelers visiting the Turks & Caicos Islands directed to the Fund’s programs.

Anyone wishing to donate or assist the TCRF in any way can contact them through their website, www.TCReef.org. Scuba divers visiting the islands are encouraged to make a $10 donation through the purchase of a dive tag that can be attached to their dive gear to show their support. Snorkelers visiting the islands can show their support through the $5 purchase of a pink or blue silicone wristband. Visitors can also support TCRF by purchasing a $40 spf50 rash guard designed each year by a different local artist. A complete list of outlets for TCRF merchandise can be found on the organization’s website.

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Tim and Henry to the Rescue: A Harrowing Search and Rescue Mission Highlights Need for Marine Vessel in Grand Turk

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#TurksandCaicos, July 12, 2024 – At approximately 2:45 pm on July 12th, a 911 emergency call came in from the police department in Grand Turk, informing Ed Forbes of a distressing situation. Four young adult tourists had gone out on paddle boards off Cork Tree Beach in Grand Turk, when one of them fell off the board and could not get back on. Evidently, they underestimated the wind speed and their own brute strength.

Ed Forbes, co-owner of Exclusive Escapes Grand Turk, played a pivotal role in coordinating the rescue. Responding swiftly to the emergency call, he immediately reached out to the local search and rescue team. His prompt actions and calm demeanor were instrumental in mobilizing the necessary resources.

Within 20 minutes or so, Tim from Emerald Escapes, along with Henry and Kindry from Blue Water Divers, were on the scene. Their experience and swift response were crucial in ensuring the safety of the stranded paddleboarders. Working seamlessly together, they managed to locate and rescue all four individuals without any need for medical attention.

However, this incident also underscores a critical issue that has long plagued Grand Turk: the need for a dedicated marine vessel for search and rescue operations and cruise passengers incidents. Despite numerous promises made to concerned citizens over the years, this vital resource remains unavailable.

The swift response of Tim, Henry, and Kingdry highlights the community’s resilience and dedication, but it also brings to light the gaps in emergency preparedness that could be addressed with better equipment and support.

A dedicated marine vessel would significantly enhance the efficiency and safety of rescue operations, ensuring that responses to such emergencies are even more effective.

Ed Forbes
Concerned Citizen

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Invest TCI Opens New Office in Grand Turk

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PRESS RELEASE

 

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – July 11th, 2024—Invest Turks and Caicos Islands (Invest TCI) proudly announces the launch of its new office in Grand Turk, located at the Digicel Building on Old Airport Road. The grand opening of the new location occurred on Friday, July 5th, 2024, under the theme “Empowering Enterprises in the Capital.”

The establishment of the new office marks a significant milestone in Invest TCI’s growth strategy. The primary objective of the expansion is to provide enhanced services and support to the business community in Grand Turk. By increasing operational capacity, Invest TCI aims to facilitate sustained growth and success for enterprises within the country.  Beyond economic advancement, this initiative is set to yield substantial community benefits, including the creation of employment opportunities.

The grand opening ceremony attracted a diverse range of attendees, including recipients of the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) programme, members of the business community, government officials, and Invest TCI staff. The event was moderated by Mr. Keno Forbes, Vice President of Investor Services. Special remarks were delivered by the Premier, Hon. Charles Washington Misick, who congratulated the InvestTCI team on their hard work and encouraged the community to take advantage of the benefits offered by the new office. He reiterated the government’s commitment to creating a supportive environment for businesses in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Additional remarks were provided by Invest TCI Chairperson, Ms. Cindy Ewing; Business Advisor, Ms. Lashena Simmons; Director of the Business Support Unit, Mrs. Anissa Adderley; and Vice President of SME, Ms. Alexa Cooper. Their contributions highlighted the collaborative effort and dedication that have driven the success of Invest TCI initiatives.

Expressing her enthusiasm for the new office, Invest TCI CEO, Mrs. Angela Musgrove, stated, “Our vision is clear and compelling: to further empower Invest Turks and Caicos Islands, the agency offers incentives and support that enable more efficient and innovative practices. We are committed to helping businesses thrive, and in doing so, we are helping our entire community.”

Invest TCI recognizes the integral role that Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises play in the economic and social development of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Through its Business Support Unit, the agency provides comprehensive support services to startups and existing entrepreneurs, ensuring they have the tools and resources to succeed.

The grand opening of the new office in Grand Turk represents a significant step forward in Invest TCI’s mission to support and empower businesses across the islands. The agency looks forward to fostering economic growth and development and ensuring a prosperous future for all.

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LAST AMERICAN TOURIST SENTENCED TO A FINE OF $1500.00 OR SIX MONTHS IMPRISONMENT IN DEFAULT, SHE’S ALSO SENTENCED TO 23 WEEKS IMPRISONMENT SUSPENDED FOR ONE YEAR

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(Thursday, July 11th, 2024) Turk and Caicos Islands – The last of five American tourists arrested in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) for being in unlawful possession of  ammunition could finally leave the TCI today, Thursday, July 11th, 2024.

Sharitta Grier 46 pleaded guilty on 25th June to having two rounds of.38 ammunition in her bags, at the Howard Hamilton International Airport in Providenciales on Monday 13th May, 2024, when leaving the Turks and Caicos Islands after a surprised Mother’s Day vacation trip, from her daughters.

Her Ladyship The Hon. Ms. Tanya Lobban-Jackson agreed with senior defense counsel, Ms. Sheena Mair of F-Chambers that there are exceptional circumstancés in Grier’s case, by this, the court departed from the mandatory minimum sentence of twelve years imprisonment and ordered a lighter sentence of $1500.00 or Six months imprisonment if fine is not paid. She’s also sentenced to 23 weeks imprisonment suspended for one year.

Holding for the office of the Director of Public Prosecution via link was Dr. Angela Terry Brooks, deputy director of the DPP’S office.

The prosecution office did oppose exceptional circumstances and invited the court to impose the mandatory minimum sentence of twelve years imprisonment.

A more detailed court report will follow.

Wilkie Arthur
Court Correspondent
Eagle Legal News Media

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