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Human Excrement to Blame for Coral Decline

August 25, 2011

Coral reef ecologists have laid a persistent and troubling puzzle to rest. The elkhorn coral, named for its resemblance to elk antlers and known for providing valuable marine habitat, was once the Caribbean’s most abundant reef builder…Now, after nearly a decade of data collection and analysis, researchers have fingered the cause of the affliction: human excrement. The finding represents the first example of human-to-invertebrate disease transmission and suggests a practical approach for halting the disease’s spread.

More here.  What really concerns me is the apparent solution:

Sutherland and Porter hope their new evidence will encourage communities throughout the Caribbean to upgrade their waste management facilities, replacing septic tanks ill-suited for the region’s geography and geology with wastewater treatment plants.

Many Caribbean communities lack the resources to set up waste management facilities. And I’ve seen few properly dug and maintained latrines from my time in the Honduran Bay Islands.  So what’s to be done?

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