Earthsky.org reports: On September 7, 2012 the IUCN released a preliminary report describing the conditions of coral reefs in seven different countries located in the Caribbean.
Among the countries, coral reefs in Bonaire, Curacao and the Cayman Islands showed the least amount of loss, and live coral cover currently ranges from about 20 to 28% in these areas. Reefs in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Florida Keys and the US Virgin Islands were found to be the worst off with live coral cover currently ranging from as little as 8 to 10%.
Elkhorn coral with white band disease. Image Credit: Andy Bruckner, NOAA.
Species of Staghorn and Elkhorn corals in Caribbean have been particularly hard hit by white band disease, the report notes. White band disease is a disease in corals whereby live coral tissue dies off leaving behind a discolored band that consists of the corals’ white calcium carbonate skeleton.
Jeremy Jackson, Science Director of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, and his co-authors of the report commented that:
Caribbean reefs with the highest surviving coral cover and least macroalgae tend to be characterized by little land-based pollution, some degree of fisheries regulations and enforcement, moderate economic prosperity, and lower frequency of hurricanes, coral bleaching, and disease. Unraveling the potential interactive role of these and other factors is a major goal of our study once all the necessary data are available.
Here is the report (PDF).