Coral Disease – What we know and how to help

You might have already read/heard that there is currently a coral disease outbreak on various reefs along Bonaire. This is very concerning as the disease is moving fast and the number of corals being affected and dying are large. We have been reposting any and all updates from STINAPA and will continue to do so. Although little information is known as of now, what we do know is the infected areas so far, as well as what we can do to limit the spread while still being able to dive.

The type of coral disease is not exactly known, however, it is thought to be Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD). In July of last year we had our first SCTLD scare at two of our beautiful dive sites: Karpata and La Dania’s Leap. These dive sites were closed to limit further spread of the disease. They were opened again after much monitoring and research by STINAPA.

What is SCTLD?

The cause of SCTLD is unknown, however, it affects quite a few species of coral, including brain, pillar, and more. The disease spreads quickly and causes high mortality in coral, destroying the soft tissue of the reef-building corals.

How to help protect our reefs:

Divers should limit dives to only one area of the island per day. This means that divers can make more than one dive a day but restricted to one area, namely the North, Town, South, or Klein Bonaire. Aside from this, divers should avoid diving in the infected areas. It is also extra important to practice good buoyancy and avoid touching or kicking coral (as always).

There is a coral disease map which depicts the known diving areas affected by the infection. There is currently a stoplight system in place. Be sure not to dive a green area after diving in an orange or red area on the same day! Dive gear needs to be fully decontaminated and fully dry before heading to a green zone after diving orange or red.

Furthermore, divers need to clean and decontaminate their gear properly. Rinse your diving equipment after each dive. This is essential, as it helps remove dirt and any other contaminants (such as micro-organisms) or any coral particles. In addition to rinsing your gear: wetsuits, BCDs, boots and fins should be decontaminated in an antiseptic solution that kills bacteria and provides protection against germs. If it is your first dive on Bonaire, make sure to decontaminate all dive gear prior to getting in the water.

For any new information on the coral disease outbreak continue to keep an eye out on the STINAPA Facebook page or any of our social media such as Facebook or Instagram. We at Beyond the Corals are taking all precautions possible to limit the spread of the coral disease. Please help us keep our reefs safe and as healthy as possible. If you have any further questions, our dive staff are more than happy to give you more information or recommendations!