Image of the Day: Call the Coral Doctor

Scientists surveyed coral colonies in Hawaii for disease after a mystery pathogen caused tissue from the common rice coral (Montipora capitata) to degenerate.   

Jun 22, 2017
The Scientist Staff

Disease ecologist and postdoctoral fellow Jamie Caldwell of Stanford University and the University of Hawaii (red fins), and research assistant Sean Dimoff (blue fins) survey coral in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, in February 2015.

DAVID SLATER

   According to disease ecologist Jamie Caldwell of Stanford University and the University of Hawaii, scientists don’t know what made common rice coral (Montipora capitata) in Hawaii sick in 2015. “[O]ur study indicated that it was an infectious disease that targets larger than average coral colonies,” Caldwell tells The Scientist in an email.

But as part of a research team recently funded by NASA to create tools that predict coral diseases, Caldwell is working to prevent such outbreaks. “[U]nderwater visual surveys rely on disease lesions we can see with the naked eye, at which point the coral is already very affected by the disease," she says in a news release. Using new tools, scientist wish to better predict and manage risk factors before disease ensues.