HANALEI, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - New photographs show coral reefs along the North Shore of Kauai covered with a type of cyanobacteria, and scientists say that the disease is currently affecting as much as six percent of the reefs in the area.
The problem was discovered in August, but a report recently released by the US Geological Survey says the reefs are 'severely degraded.'
The scientist who published the report says he's never seen the disease hill coral in Hawaii this fast.
"If you lose your coral, it's kind of analogous to losing a forest," said Thierry Work of the USGS. "When you lose all the birds and the animals, that depends 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 thinks it could be linked to pollution on land.
He'll soon travel with a team of scientists to the affected area to collect more samples.