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

CRCP and Dive Businesses Host Citizen Science Opportunities

Karen Bohnsack
Southeast Florida Action Network Coordinator

A diver participates in the Palm Beach County portion of the 4th Annual Southeast Florida Reef Cleanup. Photo: Elaine Blum.
A diver participates in the Palm Beach County portion of the 4th Annual Southeast Florida Reef Cleanup. Photo: Elaine Blum.

This summer, CRCP once again offers the southeast Florida community a chance to dive into coral reef conservation by participating in two citizen science projects -- the Marine Debris Reporting and Removal Program and BleachWatch.

Between June and August, the Marine Debris Reporting and Removal Program hosted the Fourth Annual Southeast Florida Reef Cleanup with separate cleanup days in Miami-Dade (July 20th), Broward (August 2nd), and Palm Beach counties (June 28th), as well as in Martin County (July 26th) in conjunction with the Seventh Annual Treasure Coast Waterway Cleanup. During this event, CRCP partners with local dive businesses to organize dedicated reef cleanup dives where local divers collect submerged marine debris, sort through it, and document their findings. In addition to providing important information about the distribution and impacts associated with submerged trash in the region, data collected is sent to Project Aware to assist in the global effort against marine debris. The annual Southeast Florida Reef Cleanup provides divers with the opportunity to act locally to support coral reef conservation while battling a global environmental problem.

Summer 2014 also marks the second year that CRCP is offering its newest citizen science program, SEAFAN BleachWatch, a community-based early warning network for coral bleaching. This program creates a continuous monitoring network for coral bleaching across the entire Florida Reef Tract by allowing snorkelers and divers from a variety of backgrounds to collect and report coral health data.

Participation in BleachWatch requires divers to first attend a training class, which are being offered at Divers Direct stores for the first time this summer. With multiple stores throughout the region, this partnership allows the BleachWatch program to reach far more divers which, in turn, improves the program’s capacity to act as an early warning network. In addition to helping to alert reef managers about when and where bleaching is taking place, data submitted by local divers contributes valuable information about potential areas of reef resilience and helps to validate bleaching forecasting models.

For more information about the Marine Debris or BleachWatch programs, visit www.SEAFAN.net.



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