Maps are availble to allow you to safely anchor in sand. Click here to access the Southeast Florida NOAA Chart with the benthic habitats.
Use nautical charts and mooring buoys to avoid damaging coral reefs when boating. Anchor in a sandy spot when mooring buoys are unavailable.
Photo: Chantal Collier
Swim well above reefs and avoid any contact with corals by your body or equipment when snorkeling, diving, spearfishing or lobstering.
Photo: Jennifer Podis
Every year, careless boaters run aground, destroying coral colonies that are hundreds of years old. When boating, refer to nautical charts to see if you are boating in a known reef area. Click the map to the left to access Southeast Florida charts that display our coral reefs. Or on your smart phone, you can easily view a map of your live position over the reefs in southeast Florida. Click here to find out more about these maps and how you can get them on your phone.
Florida’s Coral Reef Protection Act went into effect on July 1, 2009, increasing protection of Florida’s endangered coral reefs by raising awareness of the damages associated with vessel groundings and anchoring on coral reefs. Learn more here.
If you are boating near a reef, use mooring buoy systems when they are available. If no moorings are available, be cautious when anchoring your boat. Do not deploy the anchor directly on the reef. Anchors can crush coral habitat and,and dislodge and kill fragile corals and other living reef organisms. Reefs are usually composed of coral and sandy areas - be sure to anchor in the sand to avoid violating the Coral Reef Protection Act and incurring associated penalties. Click for maps of mooring buoy locations for Miami-Dade/ Broward counties and Palm Beach/Martin counties.
In addition to picking up your own trash, carry away the trash that others have left behind. More than just an unsightly nuisance, beach litter poses a significant threat to the health and survival of marine organisms, which can swallow or get tangled in beverage containers, plastic bags, six-pack rings, fishing line, fishing tackle, and other debris. Do not dispose of trash or other debris in the water. Be sure to pump out your sewage and dispose of trash only in marinas and designated areas.
Take only pictures and leave only bubbles. Keep your fins, gear, and hands away from the reef - contact can hurt you and damage the delicate coral animals. Disturbed sediments can smother and kill corals, so take care to stay off the bottom and avoid kicking up sand. Divers should tie up gauges so they are close to your body and don't "dangle" and harm corals!
Don't collect souvenirs and don't grasp or stand on living coral
or harass marine animals.
If you see environmental disturbances or damage at your dive sites, report them to the Marine Incident Reporting Network at 1-866-770-SEFL or www.cleanSEFLreefs.com. Signs of trouble that should be reported include marine debris, vessel groundings, and anchor damage to coral, fish disease, fish kills, invasive species, algal blooms, poor water quality, coral bleaching, and coral disease. You can also call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's 24 hour Law Enforcement Dispatch Line at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) to report marine animal incidents, fish kills or wildlife violations. Remember, your interactions with coral reefs and their inhabitants can have lasting results. Use caution and have a great experience!
Anglers should avoid coral reefs when trolling. Hooks can injure and scar the coral, leaving it vulnerable to infection by microscopic organisms that can kill the coral.
When harvesting lobster, avoid touching coral reefs. Never use chemicals near a reef. If you use traps, avoid placing the traps on reefs. Heavy traps break coral and damage the surrounding habitat when the traps are pulled.
Spearfishers should take great care in removing a wounded fish from the reef. Do not use the reef for leverage when extracting a fish from a hole. Sometimes waiting a few minutes for less resistance will help. When using a line pull the fish up and away from the reef to avoid entanglement with coral. Always be sure to visually measure first and shoot second. Make sure you know what you are shooting.
Fish and marine invertebrates, like lobster, crabs and shrimp, are integral to maintaining healthy reef ecosystems. Learn and observe fishing regulations, seasonal closures, and bag limits. Visit FWC's Saltwater Fishing Regulations for the most up-to-date information. Make sure you know which local beaches and towns prohibit spearfishing or fishing from bridges and shore.