By: Associated Press
December 9, 2017
MIAMI (AP) -- A mysterious epidemic continues to sweep South Florida's reefs, transforming corals into lifeless skeletons and threatening undersea structures that support tourism, provide hurricane protection and serve as homes to a vast range of marine life.
Called white plague, white blotch and other names, the disease has infected more than 20 South Florida coral species from the Middle Keys through Palm Beach County.
The Sun-Sentinel reports that on the reefs running from mid-Miami-Dade County through Martin County, scientists have observed a 35 percent loss of reef-building coral.
The disease arose during a worldwide, three-year coral catastrophe called bleaching, in which unusually warm ocean water led many corals to expel the piece of algae that provided them with color and gave them a source of nutrition through photosynthesis.