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

Coral monitoring indicates success at old grounding site

Mollie Sinnott, Reef Injury Prevention and Response Coordinator & Melissa Sathe, Reef Injury Prevention and Response Technician

Coral Reef Conservation Program staff member Meghan Balling measures a coral at the monitoring site.
Coral Reef Conservation Program staff member Meghan Balling measures a coral at the monitoring site.

This February, the Coral Program’s Reef Injury Prevention and Response (RIPR) Team, with support from Broward County staff, monitored corals at a vessel grounding site located just offshore John U. Lloyd State Park in Broward County. The injury happened in 2008 when the M/V Nekton Rorqual, an 80 foot long live-a-board dive vessel ran aground. Following the incident, resource trustees worked with the vessel owner to conduct emergency triage of the injured organisms - including re-attaching and stabilizing over 300 stony corals. A percentage of these corals were tagged for future monitoring so that the RIPR Team could track their recovery over time.

 

Monitoring involves measuring the coral’s live tissue dimensions, determining if there was any recent or old mortality, and recording the presence of any disease, bleaching, or boring sponges. As part of the settlement agreement with the vessel owner, the RIPR Team has been monitoring these corals every few years. Now almost seven years later, the monitoring data shows that 96% of the tagged corals were still able to be located and were still alive. If these corals had not been stabilized, they likely would have died shortly after the injury. This shows the significance of how important emergency stabilization of impacted organisms is to the recovery of injury sites.

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