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

Preparation Begins for Coral Reef Restoration Project Offshore of Fort Lauderdale

Mollie Sinnott, Reef Injury Prevention and Response Coordinator

The M/V Clipper Lasco and M/V Spar Orion Grounding Sites Stabilization and Rehabilitation Project will restore coral reef resources (not required by mitigation or regulation) and promote habitat recovery at two ship grounding sites offshore Fort Lauderdale, FL. The M/V Spar Orion, an approximately 594 ft-long cement freighter, and the M/V Clipper Lasco, a 561 ft-long bulk carrier, both independently grounded on inner reef in approximately 30 feet of water in May 2006 and September 2006, respectively. Recent site visits indicated that these sites have only experienced limited regrowth of stony corals and gorgonians. This is partially due to the presence of loose rubble which is continually moved around the area, preventing growth and development. Therefore, direct management action is needed to stabilize the loose rubble and rebuild the substrate to more closely mimic the surrounding reef. This will allow for natural recovery as well as provide an area for restoration through transplantation of stony corals and gorgonians.

In order to achieve these goals, a project team of resource trustees such as local, state, and federal agencies, as well as local experts were brought together. Olsen Associates, Inc. was hired in the summer of 2013 to develop a conceptual engineering plan, secure permits, finalize a design plan, assist with the construction bid process, and provide construction oversight. Additionally, Olsen subcontracted Coastal Eco-Group, Inc. to complete a thorough Biological Assessment and Environmental Assessment, and assist with the permit applications and construction oversight.  Before construction, all stony corals and gorgonians greater than 5 cm in diameter that are in the area will be relocated. The construction contract has been awarded to Callaway Marine Technologies, Inc. who will complete the rubble relocation and boulder and grout placement.

The project will be in full swing by the end of this summer. On-site coral relocation has begun and is primarily funded by The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s (FWC) Marine Estuarine Subsection.  FWC has contracted Dr. Dave Gilliam at Nova Southeastern University to lead the relocation work along with members from FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. Partnering with FWC for funding support has been a great help in moving this project along and their efforts are much appreciated. Preliminary preparations are currently underway with Callaway Marine who will start the construction immediately after the coral relocation is complete. Future goals include restoration actions by transplanting (outplanting) nursery corals [e.g. Staghorn coral (A. cervicornis)] and corals of opportunity, as well as gorgonian clippings and sponges into the grounding sites, but additional funding will need to be secured. This project is the first of its kind in the southeast Florida region, and will be a learning experience for all involved to help pursue more restoration efforts in the future.



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