HANALEI, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Several recent images show coral population on the reefs of Kauai's North Shore have been covered with a type of cyanobacteria, and the problem is currently affecting as much as six percent of the reefs.
The problem was discovered in August, but a new report released on Wednesday from the United States Geological Survey says the reefs are 'severely degraded.'
The scientist who published the report says he's never seen the disease killing coral in Hawaii this fast.
"If you lose your coral, it's kind of analogous to losing a forest," said Thierry Work, a wildlife disease specialist with the USGS. "When you lose all the birds and the animals, that depend on the trees. Coral is kind of the same thing. If you lose your coral reef, then all the fishes and invertebrates that depend on it, they go by the wayside."
Work says he doesn't know the direct cause of the bacteria, but says there is a chance it could be linked to pollution on land.
He and a team of scientists will head to the affected area soon to collect more samples.