Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

Restoration of a Southeast Florida U.S.A. Coral Reef Injured by the Grounding of a Nuclear Submarine

Event Name/Location

9th International Coral Reef Symposium, Bali, Indonesia, Oct 23-27

Presentation Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Coral Reefs, Florida, Conservation of Natural Resources, Ship Grounding


The United States submarine Memphis grounded in approximately 10 m depth on a coral reef off southeast Florida in February, 1993. The grounding caused extensive physical damage to the reef substrate and biological injury to the coral community. As part of a claim by the State of Florida against the United States Government, the impact of the grounding was assessed, and the area of damage was determined through field and photographic studies. The claim was settled in April, 1997 by an award to the State of Florida. A three year plan to perform hypothesis testing of restoration strategies of the damaged reef within economic constraints has been developed and involves comparison of settlement, growth, and survival rate of corals amongst artificial reefs treated with potential attractants (iron, algal extract, coral transplants), and control reefs (no attractants). The reefs are divided into four treatments of gross structural complexity (greater than 1 cm) to allow the determination of the interactive effects of four different fish communities on coral settlement and growth. In addition, the work allows the investigation of microbial biofilms as settlement precursors. Transplant treatments include identical replicates (same numbers of each species) to allow the determination of species specific differential survival and growth rates of coral transplants. The four complexity treatments are formulated to test the hypothesis that multiple refuge size and the resultant diverse fish assemblages may affect coral recruitment, survival, and growth.

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