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Bio researchers study little-known coral disease in The Bahamas

Published on July 20, 2022

Bio researchers study little-known coral disease in The Bahamas

Biochemistry major Sydney DeNoncour accompanied Biology Professor Joshua Idjadi on a research trip in The Bahamas to study a rapidly spreading disease that is affecting Caribbean coral reefs. Stationed at the Gerace Research Center from June 8–17, the researchers conducted eight underwater surveys around the small island of San Salvador.

Joshua Idjadi
Biology Professor Joshua Idjadi

“A region-wide coral disease outbreak began in 2014 and has been progressing to new islands and reefs,” said Idjadi. “Our goal was to evaluate the prevalence of the disease on the shallow reefs of the island where little is known.”

According to DeNoncour, no one has identified the pathogen that causes the disease, which is known as stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD).

“My job was to assist in locating coral and documenting whether it was healthy or infected,” said DeNoncour, who also recorded the scientific name and the size of the corals while underwater using a dive slate and pencil.

Based on observations from Idjadi’s previous trips, the researchers found that the spread of the disease has increased immensely over the last few years.

Sydney DeNoncour
Biochemistry major Sydney DeNoncour 

“Coral reefs play an important role in maintaining productive and biodiverse ecosystems,” said DeNoncour. “Therefore it was quite devastating to see how much this disease has affected Bahamian coral reefs.”

DeNoncour enjoys studying the chemical processes of living organisms and is interested in pursuing a research-related career in the future. “As someone who’s been limited to classroom laboratories, it felt amazing to be able to get hands-on experience out in the field.”

Written by Michael Rouleau