Title

Coral Resistance to Hurricane Impacts on the Erojacks Artificial Reef, Dania Beach, Florida

Event Name/Location

11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, July 7-11, 2008

Document Type

Poster

Publication Date

7-2008

Abstract

In 1967 thousands of concrete hexapods (each 1.4m tall) were deployed in a linear pile perpendicular to the Dania Beach, Florida shoreline forming the Erojacks artificial reef. This structure begins approximately 50m from shore in 3m depth and extends 380m out to a natural coral community (7m maximum depth). On 25 August 2005 Hurricane Katrina made landfall 6.5km south of the study site as a Category I storm, and two months later (23 October) Hurricane Wilma passed 60km north of the study site as a Category 2 storm. Prior to their passage, the shallow (3-4m depth) near-shore segment (first 90m) of the Erojacks artificial reef had been surveyed for the abundance and size of scleractinian coral using 21 randomly located 2m wide belt transects oriented perpendicular to the main axis of the reef. Sampling was repeated following the passage of the hurricanes and results were compared using a paired, 2-sample for means t-Test. There was a significant difference in coral colony number (p < 0.001, n=21) and surface area (p = 0.003, n=21). The initial survey documented 771 coral colonies with a combined surface area of 17.9m2. After the hurricanes, 818 colonies were observed with a combined surface area of 18.0m2. The predominant corals on the artificial reef were small (~5cm2), encrusting colonies of Siderastrea siderea and Siderastrea radians, with 9 other scleractinian coral species present. Thus, despite exposure to waves, sedimentation and turbidity generated by wind speeds up to 177km/hr, the coral community on the shallow portion of the Erojacks artificial reef experienced a significant increase in colony counts and surface area. However, since the post-hurricane survey was performed by the same but more experienced observers than the one prior to the storms, it is possible that these increases could have been due to technique improvement.

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