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

Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Moves Forward

Katharine Tzadik
Land Based Sources of Pollution Coordinator

Recently settled larva of the mustard hill coral, Porites astreoides. Photo: Dr. Alison Moulding, NOAA NMFS
Recently settled larva of the mustard hill coral, Porites astreoides. Photo: Dr. Alison Moulding, NOAA NMFS

The Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) TAC was established in 2004 to collect, review, and assess data specific to Land Based Sources of Pollution (LBSP) issues and threats to southeast Florida’s coral reefs. This group is currently composed of 21 technical experts from a variety of backgrounds ranging from coral reef ecology, toxicology, water quality, and coral biology from academia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and government agencies.

The TAC met in early November 2012 to review the most pertinent LBSP focused projects conducted since 2004. These projects addressed understanding the condition of southeast Florida’s coral and benthic resources, determining the sources and extent of pollution being introduced to our coastal waters, and determining the link between the pollution and how it affects the coral reef resources. The TAC discussions specifically focused on the how to move forward and design new studies that are based on the results and findings from the studies already completed. Also, as SEFCRI looks to develop new Local Action Strategy projects in 2013, the TAC discussed SEFCRI’s highest research needs and priorities that will inform management decisions and continue to fill information gaps for this region.

The following are some of the collaborative studies discussed.
• Biomarker Study: The goal of the project was to identify and trace stressors affecting coral condition and to use experiments to test causal cause and effect relationships , using the weedy mustard hill coral, Porites asteroids (see photo). Study results showed that shipping channels and ocean outfalls had negative effects on coral reefs at multiple biological levels including damaged DNA and gametes.. However, from year to year these responses fluctuated. No site, including the control site, was exempt from some negative effect at some point during the study. This highlights the challenges that marine ecosystem, and subsequently resource managers, face when there are multiple sources of stress (both chronic and episodic) which often interact. Future studies will attempt to better identify those interactions..
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/programs/coral/reports/LBSP/LBSP_05_Biomarker_2.pdf

• Fecal Contamination Study: The goal of this project was to determine if microbial constituents associated with human sewage were present in the southeast Florida marine environment. If so, what were the sources, and to could they be detected in sponges, coral mucus and water samples? Results showed widespread exposure of sewage along the coast of Broward County. Noroviruses, common in human sewage, were most prevalent at stations near Port Everglades inlet, followed by offshore sites at Fort Lauderdale beach that had no discernible direct point sources. . The Port Everglades inlet sample stations were the only ones where all three sample types (sponges, water and coral mucus) tested positive for the Norovirus. These results show that inlets may represent a significant source of contamination to the coastal zone - most likely due to the vast volume of water discharging from each inlet daily. However, there is a limited understanding of the true distribution of these contaminants and potential other microbial sources, such as submarine groundwater discharge, still need to be studied. s.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X1100470X



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