coral reefs

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary / NOAA

It's been more than 20 years since the last comprehensive plan to manage the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Now the sanctuary is releasing a restoration blueprint that will include four alternatives for protecting the coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass flats around the Keys, from Key Largo to the Dry Tortugas.

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

The odds are stacked against Florida’s coral reefs.

A mysterious disease is devastating them. So is climate change, which warms and acidifies ocean waters. Development and pollution don’t help much, either.

Landmark federal legislation to help corals expired in 2000, and a new bill introduced Friday by Florida’s Republican senators would revive it.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

The sparkling waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary help pump $4.4 billion into the state's economy while supporting 43,000 jobs, according to a report published Tuesday.

The Florida Everglades can be a contentious place. Politicians, conservationists and farmers never seem to agree on much.

Debate among scientists tends to be collegial. But a new study on coral and the Florida Keys that gained national headlines last week has reignited a decades-old dispute over pollution and the Everglades.

 

Jenny Staletovich/WLRN

In a gravel parking lot on Virginia Key crowded with shade tanks used for raising fish, coral researchers have a new project underway: a Noah's Ark for disappearing coral.

Brian Lapointe / Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

A landmark 30-year study of ailing coral in the Florida Keys shows nutrient-supercharged water from as far north as Orlando is contributing to the death of an ancient ecosystem that evolved to thrive in a fertilizer-free environment.

C.M. Guerrero Miami Herald

A $205 million Port Miami channel expansion that left a swath of dead coral and led to a legal battle over damage is facing more controversy. 

A new study published last week concluded U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contractors vastly underestimated the amount of coral killed. Meanwhile, the Miami U.S. Attorney's Office last week charged the lead biologist on the project who oversaw coral monitoring with lying about working part-time for an outside consultant hired by the Corps.

Didier Noirot / OceanX

Impacts from climate change, overfishing and poor water quality continue to destroy Florida's coral reefs. The conservation nonprofit OceanX has launched a mission focused on conserving and documenting the reefs.

Miami Herald archives

As South Florida's ritzy coastline, bejeweled with luxury condos and posh hotels, has come under increasing threats from flooding and storm surge driven by climate change, scientists have focused on reefs to defend that wealth.

STEVE NEWBORN / WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Divers were busy in early April transplanting coral grown in the Tampa Bay area to stressed-out reefs in South Florida and The Florida Keys. This unprecedented effort revolves around genetics.

Florida's once-colorful coral reefs are under siege. Warming seas, ocean acidification and diseases like coral bleaching are leaving parts of the world's third-largest reef a ghostly white.

Now, there's a new threat - Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. Or more simply, White Plague.

FWC Corals Program

Five years ago, a new coral disease was found right off downtown Miami. It has now spread through the Florida reef tract, from Martin County down past Key West. In response, scientists are taking unprecedented measures to make sure some coral survives, at least in captivity.

Environmental Protection Agency

When Key West city commissioners approved a ban on the sale of some sunscreens, some said it wasn't just to protect the reef that has protected the island for centuries.

Commissioner Jimmy Weekley said Key West is leading the continental U.S., and is already receiving global attention for its action.

"Key West, the 3-by-5-mile island, is going to take a major step to help preserve our environment — the environment of every citizen of the world," he said.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West has become the first place in the mainland U.S. to ban the sale of sunscreens containing two chemicals that have been found in some studies to harm corals.

"There are thousands and thousands of various alternative sunscreens that can be used. But we only have one reef," said Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, one of the sponsors of the ordinance.

It won final approval by a 6-1 vote Tuesday night.

Courtesy Andrew Bruckner / NOAA

After stony coral tissue loss disease reached the Lower Keys last spring, the disease seemed to stall. Reef scientists were hoping that meant it might peter out.

But it didn't.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The city of Key West took the first step Tuesday toward becoming the first place on the mainland U.S. to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain certain chemicals, like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which some studies have shown can harm corals. 

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