Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

Coral Diseases

Coral disease is now one of the major causes of reef degradation and coral mortality. First reported on reefs in the Florida Keys and Caribbean in the 1970s, black band disease was first recorded in Hawaii in 1994.



Diversity, Systematics and Connectivity of Vulnerable Reef Ecosystems is an integrated, multidisciplinary, international effort investigating the unique and fragile deepsea coral ecosystems from the microscopic level to the ecosystem level.

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Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies (CREST) addresses several key issues related to the current status and potential declining health and resilience of shallow-water reef communities in the U.S. Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Florida Keys.

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Coral Reef Project

Coral Reef Project

Explore the fascinating undersea world of coral reefs. Learn how we map, monitor, and model coral reefs so we can better understand, protect, and preserve our Nation's reefs.

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USGS scientists are employing microarray technology to characterize microbial communities in diseased and healthy coral species to understand coral disease processes and causes. Microarray technology allows scientists to get a taxonomic overview of the shifts in microbial communities between healthy and diseased corals, between species of corals, and between different geographic areas. Scientists also are comparing methods of preserving environmental DNA samples of corals.


Cooperative Research

Marine Invertebrate Diseases — National Wildlife Health Center Honolulu Field Station

Coral Bleaching and Disease: Effects on Threatened Corals and Reefs — Wetland and Aquatic Research Center

Coral Microbial Ecology — St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center


Select USGS publications related to coral diseases are listed below. For more USGS publications related to coral diseases, use these links:

Black Band Disease

Coral Bleaching

Coral Disease


M. Camille Hopkins, DVM, MS, PhD

Wildlife Disease Specialist
Phone: 703-648-4019