Common Sea Fans (<em>Gorgonia ventilina</em>) are one of several species of sea fans found in southeast Florida. Sea fans are also classified as soft corals or gorgonians.

Common Sea Fans (Gorgonia ventilina) are one of several species of sea fans found in southeast Florida. Sea fans are also classified as soft corals or gorgonians.

Photo: Chantal Collier

Juvenile bluehead wrasses swim along the reef in Palm Beach.

Juvenile bluehead wrasses swim along the reef in Palm Beach.

Photo: Joe Marino

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Southeast Florida Reef News

PALM BEACH COUNTY CORAL REEF INJURY CASE CLOSURE:

Melissa Sathe
Reef Injury Prevention & Response Assistant

Coral colony reattached following damage from a tow cable dragging across the reef offshore Palm Beach County.
Coral colony reattached following damage from a tow cable dragging across the reef offshore Palm Beach County.

In March 2013, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) received nearly $130,000 for reef resource damage from a tow cable being drug along a reef offshore of Palm Beach County.  In March of 2012, DEP CRCP was notified by two recreational divers who observed reef damage at two different locations on a reef locally known as Flower Gardens Reef or Breaker’s Reef.  DEP CRCP’s Reef Injury Prevention and Response Program determined that 2 tug tow boats crossed over the area where the damage was reported. Once the respondent was notified of the injury, they quickly hired an environmental consulting firm to measure the amount of damage to the coral reef.

DEP CRCP divers assisted the consulting firm during their damage assessment, and the injury area was found to be more than 1,300 square feet that stretched along a three mile path.  The respondent was required to reattach all corals and sponges that were still alive.  A total of 40 sponges, 31 coral colonies, and 57 soft corals were reattached to the reef and their health will be monitored through 2018. 

“This was a large injury that was spread out over several miles of the reef, and while any reef injury is devastating to the reef ecosystem, the respondent acted quickly and cooperatively with the Department to reattach the corals and sponges that could be saved and bring this case to closure,” said Jamie Monty, Manager of the FDEP Coral Reef Conservation Program.

These civil penalties were collected through a provision of the Florida Coral Reef Protection Act, which makes it illegal to damage coral reefs in State waters.  This money will go into DEP’s Ecosystem Management and Restoration Trust Fund (EMRTF) and is dedicated to the restoration of previous injuries and prevention of future injuries.



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