Local February 29, 2024 | 8:19 am

Invasive coral alert: multiple countries report Unomia stolonifera presence

Santo Domingo.- The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources’ Directorate of Management, Protection, and Conservation of Coastal and Marine Ecosystems (MMARN) actively participated in a thematic conference alongside experts from Venezuela, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. These countries have reported the presence of the invasive coral species Unomia stolonifera in the region.

The collaborative regional conference served as a crucial platform for marine conservation entities and organizations, including the Cartagena Convention Secretariat, SPAW Protocol Regional Activity Center (SPAW-RAC), and Caribbean Biological Corridor Secretariat. During the event, these entities utilized the reporting tool of the AGRRA (Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment) Protocol, provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to share information on Unomia stolonifera in Caribbean countries.

Biologists and technicians from MMARN highlighted that the online conference, held last Friday, facilitated the exchange of updated information, opinions, and experiences among experts from Venezuela, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Since 2023, the Dominican Republic has been monitoring reports of the fast-growing Unomia stolonifera, originally from the southern Pacific Ocean, with confirmed sightings in Venezuela, Cuba, and recently, Puerto Rico.

Experts emphasized the role of individuals in early detection of the invasive coral. They recommended vigilance in the marine environment during diving or recreational activities, especially around structures where the coral attaches itself. Observations should include noting long contractile tentacles, recognizing the unique white-pink base, documenting the geographical location of sightings, and taking photographs for detailed analysis and reporting.

While there have been no recorded coral reports in the Dominican Republic, technicians from the MMARN Vice Ministry of Coastal and Marine Affairs stressed the importance of remaining vigilant. They urged people to report any sightings through the Green Line of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources at (809) 567-4300, ext. 8000, or via WhatsApp at (849) 356-6400. Additionally, reports can be made through ecological or academic institutions, such as the Academy of Sciences of the Dominican Republic, the Dominican Foundation for Marine Studies (Fundemar), or the Marine Biology Research Center (Cibima) of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD).

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments