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Diseased coral spotted in northern Palm Beach County

Diseased coral spotted in northern Palm Beach County (Courtesy Reef Rescue)

A so-called “dire” situation is developing just off our coast that could jeopardize our fragile coral reefs.

The waters up and down Palm Beach County bring divers and a lot of dollars. In fact, the state estimates the reefs attract 71,000 jobs, infusing more than $6.3-billion into the local economy. It’s a vital resource that’s now in trouble. “This coral reef is in serious, serious trouble and we may lose it,” Ed Tichenor with Palm Beach County Reef Rescue said.

CBS12 obtained an underwater picture from reef rescue showing a diseased piece of coral recently discovered in the waters off of Jupiter. How it got there and what’s causing it is not yet known.

Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection tells CBS12 that there’s a coral disease outbreak that now stretches from northern Palm Beach County to the Florida Keys. “The coral is in bad shape. It’s already sick to start with and now you introduce a pathogen and it’s wiping out coral reefs,” Tichenor said.

It’s a disease not only threatening our underwater paradise but now billions of dollars. “There’s going to be a problem if there’s a disease down there because that’s where the food chain starts,” Diver Karel Deneve said.

If you spot any diseased coral, you can notify the state at www.seafan.net

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