A recent outbreak of coral disease off Kauai’s shores has caught the attention of federal scientists, who plan to come to Kauai to study the phenomenon in March. 

Local biologist Terry Lilley sounded the alarm last year, taking photos showing a cyanobacterial disease attacking coral.

The Garden Island newspaper reports that the University of Hawaii and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are on the move to study the problem: 

On Wednesday, Dr. Bernardo Vargas-Angel, a coral disease specialist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, confirmed that the federal agency has organized a team of scientists to travel to Kaua‘i to continue the study. Specific dates have not been set.

“We are planning on going in early March,” he said, weather permitting. “The main idea is to augment the efforts that were started … (and gain) a better understanding of the extent of the disease outbreak.”

In addition, Christine Runyon, a second year graduate student in marine biology at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, has been chosen to lead the university’s ongoing investigation of the outbreak.

“We are doing our best to find her funding to get out there,” said Dr. Greta Aeby, assistant researcher for the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology at UH. “We hope to have her out there after classes are done at UH in May.”

Read the full story.

Photo courtesy of Terry Lilley.