Event Name/Location

11th International Coral Reef Symposium: Ft Lauderdale, FL

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

2008

Keywords

Coral Reefs, Florida, Environmental Monitoring

Abstract

Significant coral reef community development exists along the eastern shelf of the United States from the Dry Tortugas through the Florida Keys (Monroe County) and Southeast (SE) Florida (Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin Counties). State and county resource managers have partnered with academia to monitor the health of the SE Florida reef system. Since 2000, more than 20 sites have been monitored annually offshore Broward County. Quantitative data includes stony coral species cover, colony size, density, and condition (bleaching, disease, etc.) and gorgonian and sponge density. The SE Florida Coral Reef Evaluation and Monitoring Project (SECREMP) was established in 2003 as an expansion of the Florida Keys Coral Reef Evaluation and Monitoring Project (CREMP). Thirteen SECREMP sites are monitored annually across the 4 SE Florida counties. The stony coral, gorgonian, sponge, and other functional group cover data collected within the SECREMP sites and the Keys CREMP sites provides status and trend information for the entire Florida reef tract. The SE Florida reef system typically has 2-4% stony coral cover with more than 30 stony coral species and a diverse assemblage of octocoral, sponges, and fishes. Since their inception, monitoring efforts have shown relatively stable levels in stony coral cover and density. However, there have been many impacts to the SE Florida ecosystem resulting from its proximity to the highly developed and urbanized SE Florida coast. These reefs are influenced by many factors including commercial and recreational fishing and diving, major shipping ports, sewer outfalls, ship groundings, and coastal construction activities. SE Florida’s coral reef ecosystems generate $1.1 billion in annual income and support 36,000 jobs in the region. The uniqueness and value of these resources to the community demands sustained cooperative monitoring efforts and increased investigations into limiting environmental/ecological processes.

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