Sea Urchin Pandemic

  • 08 Jun 2024

In June, 2024, scientists from Israel reported that a sea-borne pandemic that wiped out sea urchin populations in the Red Sea is spreading to parts of the Indian Ocean and poses a potential global threat.

Key Points

  • The pandemic was first noticed in the Gulf of Aqaba in 2023.
  • The pathogen kills fast and violently in just two days colonies can be lost making it hard to assess how many are dying
  • The pandemic appears to be moving eastward towards the tropical waters of the Coral Triangle, which extends off Southeast Asia and Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
  • The affected species of sea urchin plays a crucial role in safeguarding coral reefs, and its decline further jeopardizes the already fragile reef ecosystem.