Red Sea epidemic kills sea urchins, endangering coral.

Red Sea epidemic kills sea urchins, endangering coral.
Image: Reuters

A Red Sea epidemic has wiped out an entire sea urchin species in the Gulf of Aqaba. It is threatening the region’s resilient coral reefs, according to an Israeli research team.

Black sea urchins, which help coral reefs in the Gulf of Eilat, were wiped out in two months, according to a Tel Aviv University team.

Their two peer-reviewed journals document widespread mortality in Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

The ciliate parasite that causes disease and kills quickly could be the same one that has decimated Caribbean sea urchin populations.

A healthy Diadema setosum, a long-spined black sea urchin, becomes a skeleton with massive tissue loss in two days, according to lead researcher Omri Bronstein of Tel Aviv University’s Steinhardt Museum of Natural History and School of Zoology.

Some people die. Fish consume one another, potentially spreading disease.

Sea urchins colonized the Mediterranean Sea, most likely via the Suez Canal. Bronstein stated that Greece and Turkey had reported sea urchin deaths months before

That was less concerning because they were invasive, but the pathogen has now returned to the Red Sea’s natural population.

According to Bronstein, “this cannot be stopped.”

He believes there is a “very narrow window” of opportunity to create a broodstock of sea urchins elsewhere that could be reintroduced later.

According to the researchers, they have submitted a report to Israeli environmental authorities and are considering immediate coral reef protection measures.

Scuba diving is popular in Eilat, a Red Sea resort town in northern Israel. Scientists refer to it as a coral refuge.

Corals that settled thousands of years ago had to cross a narrow strait to the south. This acted as a thermal barrier, making them more resistant to global reef temperature increases.

Sea urchins eat algae that would otherwise suffocate reefs and block sunlight, keeping the ecosystem in balance.

Coral will be defeated by algae. “We’re going to need sea urchins,” he explained. As we’ve seen, the future is bleak without this species.

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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