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


Southeast Florida Reef News

CRCP Introduces Experienced and Energetic New Staff

CRCP Staff

In June, CRCP said goodbye to Jena Sansgaard as our Reef Injury Prevention and Response (RIPR) Coordinator. As RIPR Coordinator, Jena was instrumental in streamlining the reef injury response process by organizing protocols and conducting yearly trainings. She also created important educational products that will aid in reef injury prevention, while increasing awareness of the Coral Reef Protection Act (CRPA) through active outreach to the local boating community. CRCP’s staff wishes Jena the best of luck in the future as she relocates to Illinois.

CRCP welcomed new RIPR Coordinator, Mollie Sinnott, in June. Mollie received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Environmental Science from Wake Forest University and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Marine Biology from Nova Southeastern University. Most recently, she worked for Miami-Dade County’s Division of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) where she performed coastal environmental surveys and issued permits. Mollie will be the lead on all reef injury cases and continuing outreach and education for the CRPA and RIPR program. She can be reached at 305-795-2167 or at

The CRCP announces the selection and pairing of its first NOAA Coastal Management Fellow, Caitlin Pomerance. The Coastal Management Fellowship was established in 1996 to provide
on-the-job education and training opportunities in coastal resource management and policy for postgraduate students and to provide project assistance to state coastal zone management programs.

Caitlin is a native Floridian who received her Bachelor of Arts in Ecosystem Science and Policy and Political Science from the University of Miami and her Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. She has worked both locally with Miami Beach to develop an Adopt-A-Beach program, and internationally facilitating discussions between Bahamian fishermen and government representatives. 

As the NOAA Coastal Management Fellow, Caitlin will help CRCP to develop implementation plans for projects within the maritime industry and coastal construction impacts focus area, support local stakeholder engagement, and assist with composing the final process and recommendation document for the “Our Florida Reefs” community planning process. In February 2014, DEP’s Coral Reef Conservation Program welcomed Meghan Balling as the new Fishing, Diving & Other Uses (FDOU) coordinator. While attending the University at Buffalo, Meghan received her Bachelor’s degree studying coral bleaching at the Keys Marine Lab, followed by a Master’s degree  investigating coral-algal interactions and population genetics of soft corals at the National Undersea Research Center in Key Largo and aboard the University of Miami’s (RSMAS) R/V FG Walton Smith around Great Abaco, Bahamas. Upon moving to Florida, she began work with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Everglades Monitoring and Assessment Program (MAP) examining seagrass populations and recovery, followed by a short stint at Biscayne National Park focusing on sea turtle conservation as well as establishing baseline benthic and fish population data for use in their general management plan process.

As FDOU coordinator, Meghan is responsible for overseeing the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative’s (SEFCRI) “Our Florida Reefs” community planning process. This outreach project brings together stakeholders with a vested interest in our coral reef ecosystem in a transparent, inclusive, bottom-up process to develop recommendations for a comprehensive management strategy that balances the use and protection of southeast Florida’s reefs. She can be reached at or 305-795-1221. Megan replaced former FDOU Coordinator Julio Jimenez who left the program last winter to join his family business. Julio was an outstanding member of the Coral Reef Conservation Program team and he is sorely missed. Julio worked closely with Coral Program Manager, Jamie Monty to coordinate and lead all twelve of the Our Florida Reefs community meetings that took place during the summer of 2013 as part of Phase 1 of the Our Florida Reefs Community Planning Process for Southeast Florida Reefs.

Caitlin Pomerance, NOAA Coastal Management Fellow

Meghan Balling, Fishing, Diving and Other Uses Coordinator

Mollie Sinnott, Reef Injury Prevention & Response Coordinator

View This Newsletter | Back to News