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

Vessel Use Study Completed for Southeast Florida Coral Reefs

Jamie Monty
Fishing, Diving and Other Uses Project Coordinator

Map of all vessels observed in the four county region.
Map of all vessels observed in the four county region.

Dr. Don Behringer and Dr. Bob Swett, both of the University of Florida (UF), recently completed a study titled “Determining Vessel Use Patterns in the Southeast Florida Region.” Between 2008 and 2009, UF staff conducted 10 helicopter flights to collect vessel use data offshore of Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. Flights were conducted on weekdays, weekends, and holidays to obtain data on low, medium, and high use days, respectively. Data collected includes vessel class (recreational, commercial, headboat, research), vessel size (<10m, 10-20m, >20m), vessel status (adrift, anchored, moored, trolling), vessel activity (fishing, diving, trolling), as well as vessel location (latitude and longitude).

Over the course of the study, 3,406 vessels were observed. The majority of vessels observed were recreational (90%), small (85%), adrift (49%), and fishing (59%). As expected, highest use was on holidays (50%), followed by weekends (35%), then weekdays (15%). There were also more vessels observed during summer (43%) than spring (29%) or fall (28%). Additional analyses were conducted regarding vessel locations, anchoring, habitats used, and lobster mini-season. The results of this study will be used by FDEP’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, local resource managers, and the public to help identify reef areas that receive extensive use, may experience use conflicts, and may be suitable for application of management tools such as mooring buoys or marine debris clean-up events. To see the full results of this study, please visit: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/programs/coral/reports/.



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