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DPNR: Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Found on St. Thomas … Report Sightings

CHARLOTTE AMALIE —  The Department of Planning and Natural Resources said today that Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) has been found recently on St. Thomas.

SCTLD is a lethal coral disease that can affect roughly half of the coral species in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The cause of the disease is unknown, but scientists do know that it is transmittable through water.

SCTLD will attack all stony corals, but will affect brain and pillar corals first, and then move quickly through the rest of the stony coral, leaving behind large areas of bright white skeletons. 

SCTLD doesn’t pose a threat to human health, but will damage corals that provide food, tourism value, and physical protection from waves during storms.

DPNR is asking the general public to be on the look out for this disease when you are swimming, snorkeling, or diving throughout the territory. Look for large areas of bright white skeleton on corals, especially on brain and pillar corals.

Report sightings and visit and download the Bleach Watch app, or report directly through the website. Be sure to include photos and location information.

If you are unable to make a report, call Coastal Zone Management at 340-774-3320 or email

A public meeting is being scheduled for Wednesday, February 20th at 6:30 pm on St. Thomas. Location is TBD.

Information will be published on the Coastal Zone Management website at as well as on the DPNR Facebook page.

For more information about this topic, please call DPNR at 340-774-3320 extension 5115.

“And remember please protect all coral!” DPNR Commissioner nominee Jean-Pierre Oriol said. “Don’t anchor on coral, know what’s below when you drop your anchor. Stand only in sand. Don’t touch, kick, or stand on coral. Every living piece of coral is valuable.”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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