Speed Reads

reef madness

An unidentified disease is ravaging Florida's 360-mile-long coral reef

Florida is home to the world's third-largest coral reef, but it's quickly crumbling away.

Rising ocean temperatures have bleached Florida's corals, making them prone to disease — including the one that is currently ravaging the 360-mile-long reef. A bacterial disease has swept through nearly half of Florida's corals over the past four years, and NPR says that the unidentified infection can kill a coral within weeks.

Coral bleaching, which turns reefs white and weak, has even reached Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Luckily, Florida's corals have science on their side. NPR shared the endeavors of Mote Marine Lab's Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration, where scientists are growing baby corals in controlled tanks. Once they've matured, the fledglings are replanted into adult reefs to reproduce.

Many transplants have proved resistant to the mystery disease, something the Mote Lab's science director called a "beacon of hope." The lab is still looking for a way to stop the epidemic, but in the meantime, replanting looks like the only way to save coral from collapse.