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“San Pedro's pillar garden is gone forever,” these are the words of Valentine Rosado a Belizean biodiversity scientist/environmentalist, who pointed out about a week ago that a patch of coral just in front of San Pedro Town is dead and will not recover. “I first saw this unique shallow-stand of pillar corals about 14 years ago,” commented Rosado on a Facebook Post. “It is located right in front of town, but only a handful of locals really knew about these interesting corals.” Rosado pointed out that this past year coral disease has hit the Meso American Barrier Reef really hard. “In a matter of weeks all of them were completely dead,” commented Rosado about the pillar coral. "Nothing we can do," they say. "The disease is all over," they say. However, there is much that we CAN do— I say. We just gotta put our heart to it.”

Earlier in June 2021, Hendrix biology faculty members Dr. Jenn Dearolf and Dr. Adam Schneider traveled with 16 students from Dearolf’s Marine Biology class on a 10-day trip to San Pedro, Belize, on the island of Ambergris Caye. Sadly, they also observed the skeletons of pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindricus), a unique type of coral pointed out by Rosado on his post. There were two large stands of this coral directly in front of San Pedro. Both stands were thriving in March 2020, when the directors of Belize Tropical Research and Education Center (TREC), the facility at which Dr. Dearolf’s group stayed, had to leave the island because of covid-19. When they returned this May and visited the site with her group, the coral was dead. Currently, it is unclear why this coral died, but it has been struggling throughout the Caribbean and on the Florida reefs.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the Ambergris Today