A deadly coral disease with no known cure is spreading over vast stretches of the sea floor in the calm turquoise waters off eastern Thailand, and scientists fear it may be getting worse because of climate change.
Named for the colour it turns corals before destroying them, Yellow-band disease was first spotted decades ago and has already caused widespread damage to reefs in the Caribbean. It was detected for the first time off Thailand’s eastern coast just last year, and has already spread over roughly 600 acres.
“I haven’t seen anything like this before,” said marine scientist Lalita Putchim, of Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. “Everywhere we went we saw it, and we expect to see more of it as we go.”
Scientists believe overfishing, pollution and rising water temperatures because of climate change may be making the reefs more vulnerable to yellow-band disease. Thai marine authorities are using social media to track reports of infected reefs, and have also asked the public to report any sightings of affected corals.