Signs of resilience and recovery from the coral reefs of Florida


Here is some good news from the Caribbean – despite a >95% decline in staghorn coral since the 1970’s, there are some signs of resurgence:

Dropping 12 feet below the ocean’s surface less than a mile off Fort Lauderdale’s beach-front towers, a diver might wonder if he or she somehow got magically transported to a remote coral reef in the Caribbean.

Covering the sea bottom is a forest of maize-colored, healthy staghorn coral with grouper, grunts, damselfish and other assorted tropicals swimming all around. If not for the dusky, green water, bits of floating trash and gobs of algae covering some of the surrounding soft corals, the scene could be the Bahamas or Bonaire.

Why is a threatened species of coral thriving near urban Broward County? (Read More)

4 thoughts on “Signs of resilience and recovery from the coral reefs of Florida

  1. Apart from the promise of staghorns returning to the area, I think what is really interesting about this story is that the EPA has the power to prosecute people who damage them, purposely or accidentally.

    “Florida’s new Coral Reef Protection Act, which took effect July 1, empowers the DEP to recover monetary damages for boat groundings, anchor impacts and other harm done to the resource.”

    Obviously it is a difficult thing to enforce, but a great mentality shift. That is really putting value on the environment, and really placing responsibility on boat users and divers who use the area, but are often reckless in their regard for what lies under the surface.

    If you break the foundations, the rest will collapse.

  2. It’s one thing to enforce legislation for boat grounding and anchor impacts, but I see this is less of an issue than the estimated 24,000 septic systems and 10,000 cess pools from the Florida Keys. Not to mention the sewage that is being pumped directly onto the reef. I’m not kidding, check here.

    Coral Reef Protection Act? It’s one thing to legislate the small things, but who legislates the legislators ? I see that as an interesting mentality to shift.

  3. More good news. Nice to see. But the story is a bit deceptive since the same Acropora recovery is occurring throughout south Florida, into the FL Keys. Bill Precht has been sending me images of reefs just south of Miami where Acropora is really starting to take off. Ill see if he will let me publish some here. Also note, he and Rich Aronson published a paper on the north and westward (i.e., into the Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm beach area and west into the Gulf of Mexico) expansion of the modern range of Acropora in FEE a few years ago, so this story has been around for some time.


    Precht WF, Aronson RB (2004) Climate flickers and range shifts of reef corals. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2:307-314

  4. And regarding the septic/sewage issue in S. Florida, the state is moving to meet a mandated end for local septic discharge with a plumbed system that will run all the way to Key West. I am confident in predicting it will not make a hoot of difference since sewage/nutrients played absolutely no role in the degradation of the reefs in South Florida.

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