Diadema antillarum mass mortality microbiology survey April 2022

In late April 2022, Ian traveled to St. Thomas and St. John, US Virgin Islands, to assist scientists at the University of the Virgin Islands and the National Parks Service in collecting and processing specimens of grossly normal and abnormal Diadema antillarum (Long Spined Urchin) for microbiological investigation. After arriving in St Thomas, Ian traveled with Moriah Sevier, Matt Souza, Samuel Gittens and Kayla Budd to several sites on the southern side of St John, where he witnessed first hand the highly unusual behavior of this species affected by the condition. Collected specimens were then transported to the National Parks office where they were dissected and sampled for various tissues. This survey was critical to understanding the urchin mass mortality, since it, along with a complementary study performed in the Caribbean Netherlands, provided the first insight into what might be causing the condition.