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

map

Southeast Florida Reef News

Baseline Benthic Surveys to be Conducted

By Jamie Monty
Fishing, Diving & Other Uses Project Coordinator

Jamie Monty and Joanna Walczak of FDEP CRCP take a break between 2009 FRRP DRM surveys.  Photo: Christopher Boykin, FDEP CRCP
Jamie Monty and Joanna Walczak of FDEP CRCP take a break between 2009 FRRP DRM surveys. Photo: Christopher Boykin, FDEP CRCP

In the last issue of Southeast Florida Reef News (January – April 2010), you may have read about Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) staff participating in a Florida Reef Tract-wide annual monitoring program called the Florida Reef Resilience Program’s (FRRP) Disturbance Response Monitoring (DRM). The FRRP DRM, which is typically implemented each summer to monitor the effects of coral bleaching, was adapted to monitor the effects of the January 2010 cold water event. This past quarter FRRP partners had the opportunity to adapt the DRM once again, this time in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

FDEP CRCP staff will survey the reefs offshore of Miami-Dade County in August both to conduct the annual bleaching monitoring as well as to establish a baseline of coral condition prior to the arrival of any oil. Partner agencies, organizations, and academic institutions will conduct their surveys at the same time throughout the Florida Reef Tract, from Martin County to the Dry Tortugas. Should the region’s reefs become affected by oil, post-oil surveys will also be conducted to determine what effect this disturbance has on the region’s reefs.

The response of an individual coral, a coral species, or a coral reef to disturbance events, such as coral bleaching, unusually cold water temperatures, and exposure to oil, can inform scientists and managers about that coral’s, species’, or reef’s resilience to the disturbance. Resilience is defined as the ability of systems to absorb disturbances, to resist phase shifts and to regenerate and reorganize in order to maintain key functions and processes in a time span relevant to resource use and management activities. Comparing data from pre- and post-disturbance surveys informs scientists and managers about a system’s ability to tolerate a disturbance and recover from it.

The FRRP is designed to improve the understanding of reef health throughout the Florida Reef Tract, and to identify factors that influence the long-term resilience of this marine ecosystem. Although originally designed to capture the effects of coral bleaching on reef health, the FRRP methods have been applied to a variety of additional disturbances, each time providing another insight into the health of the region’s coral reefs.



View This Newsletter | Back to News