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

Maritime Industry and Coastal Construction Impacts (MICCI) Combined Project 14,15,16 Phase I and II Completed!

Lauren Waters
MICCI Coordinator

Divers sample the recovery of an area of reef previously injured from a boat grounding. Photo: Dave Gilliam Ph.D.,Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center
Divers sample the recovery of an area of reef previously injured from a boat grounding. Photo: Dave Gilliam Ph.D.,Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center

The Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center recently completed a study for the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) titled: "A Study to Evaluate Reef Recovery Following injury and Mitigation Structures Offshore Southeast Florida: Phase I and Phase II". The ultimate goal of this two-phased project was to evaluate recovery of injured reef resources and the development of the biological communities on deployed 'mitigation' reefs. Results from this study will assist resource managers in determining appropriate compensatory mitigation and restoration for future coral reef injuries. Phase I of the project examined unpermitted injury areas (e.g., vessel groundings)  compared to natural reef control sites in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Phase II evaluated permitted artificial mitigation reefs in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties and compared them to natural reef control sites. Phase II also included an assessment of the current condition of sites within the Port of Miami entrance channel (i.e., a permitted man-made impact).

Biological communities in both phases of the project were surveyed for density and size class of stony corals, gorgonians, and barrel sponges. Phase I results showed that none of the grounding sites surveyed have fully recovered yet, and that persistent rubble and increased sediment, compared to un-impacted sites, may be inhibiting the recovery at these sites. In Phase 2, the data in each county showed that as mitigation boulders aged, there was a trend towards greater similarity to the natural reefs. However, although the numbers of different stony coral species were similar, there was a difference in how much each species contributed to the community. The smaller, faster growing species appeared more frequently on boulders, while the larger, reef-structure forming species contributed greater to the natural reef community. Interestingly, mitigation boulder reefs do not appear to be developing gorgonian communities similar to adjacent natural reefs, and barrel sponges were not identified on any boulder reefs. The oldest boulder reef surveyed in this study was deployed 17 years ago, indicating that it takes longer than 17 years for a mitigation structure to replace the lost ecological services provided by natural reef. For more study results, the full reports for Phases I and II can be found at:

http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/programs/coral/reports/MICCI/MICCI_14_15_16_Phase_1.pdf

http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/programs/coral/reports/MICCI/MICCI_14_15_16_Phase_2.pdf



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