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Human Poop Is Killing Coral in Florida Keys and Caribbean, Study Finds

OK, people, who crapped on the coral?

A study led by a biologist from Florida's Rollins College says human sewage has been leaking into the ocean and is likely the reason the Caribbean Elkhorn coral was added to the endangered species list.

The research says Serratio marcescens, a bacteria found in human fecal matter, has been killing coral with a disease called "white pox" -- which was first discovered to be affecting coral in the Florida Keys in 1996.

A previous study in 2009 also believed that human waste was contributing to "white pox," but in this particular study, they tested several substances that contained the bacteria, but only the human poo-poo caused coral tissue to die.

Researchers said their test corals all showed signs of the disease within four days, "unequivocally verifying humans as a source of a marine invertebrate disease."

Apparently when the disease starts to set in on the coral, it gives off an awful smell due to the accumulation of a mucus, and once "white pox" sets in on the coral, it's toast within 24 hours.

On the political side of things, Florida State Reps. Doug Broxson and Marti Coley have submitted a bill for the next legislative session that would repeal the state's law on septic-tank inspections, which has been tried in the Legislature before.

According to Northwest Florida Daily News, "Tea party groups joined the call to repeal the inspections," effectively adding killing coral with poop to the anti-environmental agenda that already includes hating manatees.

Get real, says the scientists who wrote the study:

Coral reefs are amongst the most critically endangered habitats on earth. Because population declines of Acropora palmata are caused, in part, by a human strain of the common fecal enteric bacterium, Serratia marcescens, our findings address not only environmental protection, but also the socioeconomic and socio-ecological determinants of coastal zone protection and the cost of wastewater treatment infrastructure.

You can find the study in its entirety here.


Follow The Pulp on Facebook and on Twitter: @ThePulpBPB. Follow Matthew Hendley on Facebook.


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