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Researchers: Widespread Coral Diseases In Upper Keys

Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Researchers say a widespread disease outbreak continues to afflict corals off the Upper Florida Keys.

The Florida Reef Resilience Program says a spike in coral diseases first recorded in 2014 has continued through 2016 at the northern end of the island chain.

Jennifer Stein of The Nature Conservancy told The Citizen that lower water temperatures this year meant less coral bleaching than last year. However, Stein says multiple diseases have still struck many coral species.

Mote Marine Laboratory coral biologist Cory Walter says corals in the Lower Keys don't seem as severely impacted by the outbreak.

According to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, ocean recreation and tourism account for $2.3 billion in annual sales and over 33,000 jobs in the island chain.