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

Deepwater Horizon Incident Response

By Katharine Tzadik1 & Chantal Collier2
1Environmental Project Coordinator, 2Manager

Patricia Rose collecting sediment samples. Photo: Katharine Tzadik, FDEP CRCP
Patricia Rose collecting sediment samples. Photo: Katharine Tzadik, FDEP CRCP

Throughout the months of May, June and July, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) has engaged in Deepwater Horizon incident response activities. In May, CRCP staff initiated the development of the southeast Florida regional pre-oil event assessment sampling plan.  The purpose was to establish a baseline of presence or absence of oil in the water and sediment prior to exposure, so that it can be determined through post-event sampling if the area had been negatively affected by this oil disturbance. Weathered oil in the form of tar balls, tar patties and oil sheen could possibly be transported to the east coast if the oil were to hit the Loop Current and enter via the Florida Straits and the Gulf Stream.

A strong collaborative effort was initiated among the CRCP, the Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves, and Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves to write and obtain approval for a protocol to be used throughout the SE Florida region. The plan was implemented during the week of June 7, 2010, with a total of 35 sites sampled for both water and sediment starting in Miami-Dade County and continuing through Broward and Palm Beach, finishing in Martin County at the end of the week. Divers were fortunate to have great weather and all sampling was completed in four days. As part of a larger state-wide effort, the researchers accomplished sampling with the continued support and successful partnerships with Broward County, the FDEP Southeast District office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and others.

At the end of June, three CRCP staff also completed a 24-hour HAZWOPER training class at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The primary objective of the training was to identify possible hazardous materials existent and possible methods, symptoms and preventative measures associated with exposure to individuals who may be working in or near hazardous areas. Then in early July, two CRCP staff also completed a Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team (SCAT) training at the Lake Worth Inlet U.S. Coast Guard Station. The objective of the class was to prepare a SCAT team to identify the description of oiled shoreline conditions and recommend the best possible cleanup for the oiled shoreline to the operations sections. CRCP staff are actively participating in daily conference calls to track this event and maintain response preparedness.



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