“For the more than 20 coral species afflicted by this disease, the amount of coral lost in the first six months of the outbreak alone is equivalent to the amount that was lost over the previous 40 years. We need all the support we can get to monitor this disease in order to minimise further damage.”
Participating divers are given guidance on looking out for coral colonies displaying white bands, spots or lesions. They are asked to post photographs to Instagram using the #SupportNEMO hashtag, adding the date and location (GPS co-ordinates or dive site).
They are also encouraged to share photos of marine pollution and wildlife.
The photos will be analysed by the NEMO Reef Response Team, a taskforce made up of marine scientists and conservationists from the Mexican Marine Park Authority, Healthy Reefs Initiative and BARCO LAB.
They hope that the images will help them to understand the disease and track its spread so that they can develop and test treatments, reduce pollution, identify ways to prevent its spread and begin restoration efforts.
STI is also launching a crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising US $40,000 in 40 days – the time it says it can take the White Syndrome to kill an entire coral colony.
It says the funds will be used to develop a NEMO citizen-science web application, educate local communities about reef conservation and fund expeditions by the response team to fight the disease.
Find out more about STI here.