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

Coral Reef Conservation Program Kicks Off First Large Scale Restoration Project

Jena Sansgaard
Reef Injury Prevention and Response Coordinator

Divers mapping the M/V Spar Orion grounding site. Photo: FDEP CRCP
Divers mapping the M/V Spar Orion grounding site. Photo: FDEP CRCP

On November 19th, the DEP’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) staff, Broward County’s Marine Resources Section staff, and contracted engineers completed investigation dives at two ship grounding sites scheduled for a large scale coral reef restoration project. The commercial ships,  M/V Spar Orion (590 ft.) and M/V Clipper Lasco (555 ft.), both grounded offshore of Ft. Lauderdale in 2006. These groundings resulted in an estimated damage area of 17,500 ft2. These grounding sites were chosen for restoration by resource trustees because recent studies have shown that they are not recovering naturally. 

DEP contracted Olsen Associates Inc., a professional coastal engineering firm, to design the coral reef restoration project for these two grounding sites. The specific details of the restoration plan will be determined during the project design process. Project design will be completed at the end of January 2014, and restoration construction is expected to be completed by June 2015.

“This is an exciting time for our program as this is the first large-scale coral reef restoration project that we have undertaken. This project will vastly improve the reef at these severely damaged grounding locations that weren’t recovering,” said Jamie Monty, Manager of the DEP Coral Reef Conservation Program.

During the site visit this week, divers collected data to create detailed maps of the restoration areas which they will use in the planning phase. The weather cooperated and sea conditions were ideal for six divers to complete four dives at the restoration areas. Divers also collected photos and videos that will be used in the project design.

Funds recovered from coral reef injury events like these are deposited into Florida’s Ecosystem Management and Restoration Trust Fund (EMRTF) and are dedicated to the restoration of previous injuries and prevention of future injuries. This large scale restoration project is using EMRTF funds to restore the areas of injured coral reef at these two ship grounding sites.



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