Coral Disease Threatens Hawaiian Corals

Written by on January 16, 2012 in Marine Life, Physical Oceanography

Emily Tripp
Senior Writer

Another outbreak of coral disease has damaged the reefs of Kane’ohe Bay, O’ahu.

In March 2010, an outbreak of acute Montipora White Syndrome (MWS) destroyed over 100 colonies of rice coral, Montipora capitata.  The same disease has reappeared and is killing corals again in Kane’ohe Bay. To date, the outbreak has affected 198 colonies.  A rapid response team led by Dr. Greta Aeby has been called to document the outbreak.  The team includes scientists from the University of Hawaii, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and USGS National Wildlife Health Center.

Additionally, members of the Eyes of the Reef Network, a program that trains community members to identify threats to the reefs, are also being asked to help.

Dr. Aeby’s team has determined that MWS only affects rice corals.  Lab experiments suggests that it is caused by pathogenic bacteria, and work is underway to determine other environmental variables that may contribute to the outbreaks.

“Fortunately for Hawaii, resource managers have taken a proactive approach to these threats and have already developed a rapid response plan for coral bleaching and disease events,” said Aeby.

Montipora capitata growing over Porites lobata.  Photo Credit: NOAA.

Montipora capitata growing over Porites lobata. Photo Credit: NOAA.

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of OceanLines LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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