Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Articles

Hypothesis-based Restoration Study For Mitigation of a Damaged SE Florida Coral Reef: A Work in Progress

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Nova Southeastern University

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Restoration, Coral fragment, Reefball


The United States Submarine Memphis (Figure 1) ran aground in approximately 10 meter depth on a coral reef off southeast Florida (Figure 2) February 25, 1993. Extensive physical damage to the reef substrate and injury to the coral community were attributed to the initial grounding and subsequent attempts to free the submarine from the impacted reef (Figures 3 and 4). The impact of the grounding was assessed, and the area of damage was determined through field and photographic studies. An impacted area of 2,310 m2 was assessed with 1,205 m2 having been totally destroyed (Figures 3 and 4). In 1997, the State of Florida was awarded a settlement of $750,000 by the Federal government for environmental damages caused by the submarine grounding. A plan to perform hypothesis testing of restoration techniques was developed and initiated. Using artificial reefs as experimental platforms, we are examining three restoration strategies: 1) the potential of enhancing coral recruitment through the use of coral larval attractants, 2) the effect of reef structure on the associated fish assemblages, and 3) the interaction between fish assemblages and coral recruitment and survival.


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