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 Commercial Anchor Drag Injury Assessed

By Joanna Walczak
Assistant Manager/ Maritime Industry & Coastal Construction Impacts Project Coordinator

Physical contact from anchors can scrape, dislodge, and crush fragile coral. <br/>Photo: Jerry Metz
Physical contact from anchors can scrape, dislodge, and crush fragile coral.
Photo: Jerry Metz
On February 4, 2010, Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management reported a commercial vessel anchored outside U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) designated commercial anchorages off the Port of Palm Beach. The USCG and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) coordinated response to the incident.

FDEP CRCP worked with local Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff, FWC Law Enforcement and the FWC Fish & Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) in responding to this incident. FWRI used Geographic Information System (GIS) software to plot the vessel’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) positions relative to both the nearest anchorage area and the coral resource habitat locations in the area. Based on the GIS map, FWC indicated that reef damage may have occurred due to the vessel’s anchor being dragged across the reef.

On February 19, 2010, FDEP CRCP and FWC biologists conducted a site visit to assess any damage to marine resources at the incident site. Representatives for the Responsible Party (RP) were present throughout the day and participated in the field activities, including diving, when damage was found.

An assessment of the injury area was completed and a report was generated documenting the incident. The State of Florida will pursue penalties from the RP for damages to the coral reef resource habitat under the Coral Reef Protection Act (CRPA) that went into effect in July 2009. For more information on the CRPA, please visit our website at: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/programs/coral/ripr.htm

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