coral reefs

Researchers say a widespread disease outbreak continues to afflict corals off the Upper Florida Keys.


Michal Kranz/WLRN

 

As freshwater leaves the Everglades and flows south and east, it enters Biscayne National Park. Today, this pristine water enters Biscayne Bay through a series of manmade canals and helps feed the park’s unique aquatic ecosystems.

The park itself is unlike any other in the country - 95 percent of it is in the Atlantic Ocean. While much of its water is salty, freshwater is critical for the bay’s abundant corals and seagrasses.

 

Diveheart

  Gabriel Spataro was instrumental in placing an Italian statue, cast from the same mold as Genoa's Christ of the Abyss, in the waters off Key Largo.

Felipe Marrou / WLRN TV

Billy Causey has a keen eye for recreational boaters doing dumb things around vulnerable coral reefs in the Florida Keys.

Especially on heavy boating holidays like the Fourth of July.

“Lookee there,” says Causey as his boat heads out from Big Pine Key. He points to a nearby cluster of party boats. “A lot of them are up on the sea grasses and people are walking around on top of small colonies of coral.”

Florida Fish And Wildlife Commission

  The boat that ran into a patch reef off Key West recently left without reporting the grounding. But it left some pieces behind.

"Essentially, this is a hit-and-run on the coral," said Sean Morton, superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. "We're on the lookout for a very large boat that is missing one prop and has probably a very large dent and damage to the hull on the front."

Ccb621/flickr

Two big news stories in Miami-Dade County this past week will impact transportation and the homeless. The federal program for housing cut millions of dollars that Miami-Dade programs were counting on in homeless funding. Up to 700 beds for homeless people are at risk.

Florida's Coral Getting Help From Hundreds Of Miles Away

Mar 4, 2016
James St. John / Wikimedia Commons

Some coral in the Florida Keys are breeding with coral 1,000 miles away more than they are with coral on the very same reef, according to a new study from the University of Miami.

Noel López / Ocean Doctor

David Guggenheim fell in love with scuba diving and coral reefs in the 1970s when he attended a marine science camp in the Florida Keys. But over a career as a scientist and conservationist, he watched those coral reefs degrade and disappear.

NOAA

  The marine environments of Cuba and the U.S. have always shared the same resources.

Now the managers of marine protected areas in both countries will start sharing information.

This week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Park Service signed an agreement with Cuba's Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment.

Spree Expeditions / PRNewsFoto

Fifteen years ago, when Frank Wasson bought the motor vessel Spree, the boat was based in Texas and mostly ran dive charters to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico. But he had another destination in mind.

Mike Echevarria / Florida Aquarium

Submerged 250 to 300 feet in the Gulf of Mexico lies a coral reef that could hold the key to crucial information and resources for the Florida Keys reef. 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research cruise is currently operating at Pulley Ridge, 100 miles west of Key West, where scientists are using a remotely operated vehicle to collect videos and samples from the sea floor.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

People who fish and dive love it when the winds are light and the seas are calm.

Coral reefs, not so much.

That's because calm seas means sunlight can penetrate better and heat up the water. When sea temperatures pass a 30.4 degrees Celsius average for a month — that's 86.72 degrees Fahrenheit — corals start to bleach.

The corals expel the zooxanthellae, or symbiotic algae that gives them their colors.

Mote Marine Laboratory

Coral reefs have suffered major declines over recent decades. But one bright spot in marine science is the newfound ability to grow corals from fragments in coral nurseries.

Mote Marine Lab has been a leader in that field, working from its Tropical Research Laboratory on Summerland Key. It grows staghorn corals at its offshore nursery, near Looe Key, and reef-building corals at the lab facility.

Phillip Dustan / International Coral Reef Initiative

The lead scientist on a study that surveyed the health of Caribbean coral reefs over 50 years says climate change is not the most severe threat facing coral reefs.

The Florida Keys reef is among the unhealthiest reefs in the Caribbean, said Jeremy Jackson, who grew up in South Florida and first visited the Keys in the late 1940s.

Greenpeace USA/flickr

A study on the effects of climate change forecasts the widespread bleaching of coral reefs sooner than expected. Corals in the Dry Tortugas are among those at risk. 

Any change in normal conditions, like unusually warm water, can cause corals to release algae from their tissues. These algae give corals their color and provide their primary source of food.

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