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

Reef Cleanups Held Throughout July in Southeast Florida

Karen Bohnsack
NOAA Regional Management Coordinator

Divers pick up marine debris during the July 14th Broward County Reef Cleanup. Photo: Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources.
Divers pick up marine debris during the July 14th Broward County Reef Cleanup. Photo: Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources.

During the month of July, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Coral Reef Conservation Program (FDEP CRCP) and the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) conducted a series of reef cleanups in southeast Florida. In partnership with seven local dive charters, cleanup events took place in Miami-Dade County on July 7th, Broward County on July 14th, and Palm Beach County on July 28th. FDEP CRCP was also a sponsor of the Martin County Pecks Lake Reef Dive Cleanup, which was held in conjunction with the 5th Annual Treasure Coast Waterway Cleanup on July 21st. Between Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, 76 volunteer divers collectively spent 93.6 hours underwater cleaning up over 35 linear miles of reef, where they removed 356.5 pounds and 165.5 gallons of debris.

The goal of these reef cleanups was to increase awareness about the causes and consequences of marine debris while encouraging local businesses and citizens to become part of the solution. Cleanup participants were educated about the reef and the damage inflicted by marine debris, and also encouraged to become active stewards of the environment by removing debris during every dive, reporting debris findings, and generally helping to protect the resources on which they rely.

These reef cleanups were the first activity conducted under FDEP CRCP’s new program, the Southeast Florida Action Network (SEAFAN). SEAFAN is a reporting and response system which allows divers, fishermen, boaters and anyone else who spends time on the ocean to become involved in the protection and management of southeast Florida’s coral reefs. By calling the SEAFAN hotline at 866-770-SEFL (7335) or filling out an online report form at www.SEAFAN.net, ocean-goers can report any number of marine incidents that may be impacting the marine environment, from marine debris, vessel groundings and anchor damage to corals, to biological disturbances such as fish kills, coral disease and bleaching, and algal blooms. 

Through SEAFAN, incoming reports are evaluated, and when appropriate, FDEP CRCP will coordinate a response based on the type of report. Marine debris reports will be used to help identify sites for next year’s volunteer-based reef cleanup events, while reports of larger debris will be targeted for removal by experienced personnel.



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