Higher water temperatures from global warming, diseases such as white band disease
and pollution from land have contributed to the widespread loss of the Acropora corals.
Branching corals dominated the shallow areas of most Caribbean reefs until the early to mid-1980s when white band disease
decimated populations in Virgin Islands National Park and Buck Island Reef National Monument.
Twenty years' worth of effort by other researchers has failed to yield consistent identification of a pathogen in another affliction, white band disease
. The organism behind plague type I also remains unknown.