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

Monitoring Project to Help Address Offshore Water Quality Questions July 2016-July 2017

David Cox, Land-Based Sources of Pollution Coordinator

Selected sites along the St. Lucie inlet for water quality monitoring.
Selected sites along the St. Lucie inlet for water quality monitoring.

In 2014, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection began preliminary discussions with NOAA scientists on the need for more offshore water quality monitoring data for southeast Florida’s reef tract. Over the years, many stakeholders have expressed concern about the potential impact of the water qualityon coral reefs and coastal resources.  To address the need for this information, a state-federal partnership has been formed this month to sample offshore waters.

Initial monitoring entails the collection of monthly water-quality samples in Miami-Dade and Martin counties. Samples will be collected on the ebb, or outgoing tide, to best capture land-based sources of pollution from rainfall, stormwater runoff, tides and canal and river discharges. Specifically, the samples will be analyzed for the following nutrients/indicators of human impacts: total nitrogen, nitrate/nitrite, ammonium, total phosphorus, orthophosphate, silica and anti-biotic resistant bacteria. Samples will be collected from both surface and bottom waters.

 

The goal of this pilot project is to establish a long-term water quality monitoring program across the northern portion of the Southeast Florida Reef Tract. The data obtained will allow managers to evaluate water quality for potential impacts on coral reef communities, track trends over time and suggest appropriate management measures aimed at protecting and promoting reef health.



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