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YOU Can Help to Determine the Fate of the Cozumel Coral Reefs

A sudden disease outbreak caused by an undetermined pathogen is resulting in a mass killing of the coral reefs in Cozumel and the Yucatan. Your gift in support of critical research will have a real and sustained impact on the future of these beautiful reefs and the marine organisms that rely on them.

The Cozumel reef system is part of the second largest coral reef system in the world - and it is in eminent danger of being destroyed, despite efforts to stop the spread of the unknown disease. In May 2019, it was calculated that this fast-moving pathogen impacted 30% of the reefs in Cozumel and the Yucatan. By August, that number had risen to 42%. As grave as this situation is, your support can help to both mitigate coral loss, and repopulate the reef with disease resistant corals.    

 Why Your Support is URGENTLY Needed!

Lorenzo Álvarez, one of Northeastern’s partners in this project and a researcher at the Institute of Ocean Sciences at the Autonomous University (UNAM), estimates that more than 20 of the 30 most common Caribbean corals have been affected by the unidentified pathogen. Additionally, coral reef tipping points continue to be crossed due to an increase in regional and global stressors, including land-based pollution, overfishing, and warming oceans resulting from climate change. Coral reefs are weakened by these and other health factors, lowering immunity and complicating recovery from disease.  Time is running out to save these reefs!

Infection is  a death sentence to those corals  that have been affected and more than half have already died, raising the possibility that we may be the last generation to see healthy coral reefs.   

Our Plan

Working with Mexican collaborators, local MPA managers, and local governmental agencies, we will:

  • Identify the disease pathogen and develop strategies to mitigate coral loss
  • Identify and farm disease resistant “super” corals
  • Repopulate the reefs with these disease resistant corals to provide structure and habitat for the Cozumel coral reef community

For more information, please contact Patricia Flint, AVP of Interdisciplinary Initiatives at Northeastern University at or 617-373-7356.