Summer Mean Science for DEP’s Coral Reef Program and Southeast Florida Community

June 25, 2014

This summer the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) will gather valuable scientific information about southeast Florida’s coral reefs through citizen science programs, as well as staff research dives.

Community members can contribute to the effort by becoming part of the coral bleaching early warning network and participating in the Fourth Annual Southeast Florida Reef Cleanup. CRCP staff will also survey local fish populations and coral condition through the Reef Visual Census and Florida Reef Resilience programs.

“Summertime is traditionally when coral program staff are out on the water collecting important coral and fish data,” said Joanna Walczak, southeast regional administrator for DEP’s Florida Coastal Office. “We are excited our Marine Debris and BleachWatch programs also allow the community to get involved in coral reef conservation efforts.”

Local divers and snorkelers can learn about coral bleaching, including how to detect and report it, through BleachWatch. Coral bleaching is a reaction to stress, especially high temperatures, that puts corals at risk. The next class will be held at Diver’s Direct in Miami from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 26.

The Fourth Annual Southeast Florida Reef Cleanup kicks off in Palm Beach County on June 28 and will continue throughout the summer in Miami-Dade, Broward and Martin counties. Local charter boats take divers out for dedicated cleanup dives where participants remove trash from the reefs and report it to CRCP.

Starting this week, CRCP staff will begin conducting reef fish surveys, and in August will determine if any bleaching is visible on the reefs located just offshore of Miami. Both projects are part of larger multi-partner efforts to assess fish populations and coral condition across the entire Florida Reef Tract from the Dry Tortugas to the St. Lucie Inlet.

These summertime efforts provide valuable scientific data on the condition of southeast Florida’s reefs. This information is crucial for assessing the current status of the resource and ultimately improving its management in the region.

For more information about opportunities to participate and how to register, click HERE.

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