A mission by FORCE BLUE members in partnership with scientists from Nova Southeastern University has reached its halfway point after completing 25 days of diving.

The mission aims to halt the contagion and spread in the Florida Keys of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease.

The disease raised its ugly head in the waters off Florida in 2014 and has been virulent and devastating. The disease has rapidly spread and has a high mortality rate amongst affected corals. Scientists estimate that of the 44 species of stony coral in Florida waters, more than half are susceptible to the disease. According to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Sarah Fangman:

“The coral disease outbreak we’re facing here in Florida is unlike anything experienced anywhere in the world. That’s a pretty dramatic statement, but it’s completely true.”

During the mission, FORCE BLUE members and scientists are using two different treatments on affected corals, and so far have treated over 1500 affected areas on 500 different corals. According to NSU Scientist Karen Neely:

“I think what we’re doing here might impact our Florida reef system which is hope in and of itself. But I also think everything we’re doing is going to be picked up by people around the world. Not just in terms of the scientific solutions we’re finding, but in the creative mechanisms we’re using. Partnering with organizations you might not have thought of partnering with before. Finding those creative solutions, I think, is the step we need to conserve coral reefs around the world.”