Independent Research: Helen Jarnagin (Occidental College)

Population frequency and species of the parasitic black spot disease found commonly on Ocean Surgeonfish, Acanthurus tractus, in Bonaire

hjarnaginAbstract: Diseases in marine ecosystems are difficult to research and understand. Tracking the health of ecosystems such as tropical coral reefs is important to protecting these sensitive ecological areas. On the coral reefs surrounding Bonaire, and other Caribbean islands, a dark spot disease has been observed on Ocean Surgeonfish, Acanthurus tractus. This disease has been shown to be a parasite, although its taxonomic identity is still under debate. The study of this parasite has become a point of interest because dark spots have now been observed on other herbivorous fish; additionally, the current frequency of the disease on Ocean Surgeonfish is not known. These herbivorous fish are crucial to a healthy and sustainable coral reef ecosystem; a massive change to the health of these fish could potentially affect the entire system. The purpose of this study is to find the prevalence of this disease in Acanthurus tractus and other fishes, in addition to finding the lowest possible taxonomic description of the parasite. To ensure that it is the same parasite infecting all species observed with black spots a comparison of pathogens found on other fish will be made to the parasite found on Acanthurus tractus.

Want to know more about dark spot disease? Come to Helens presentation, Wednesday 29th of April, 18:30 at CIEE RSB

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