coral reefs

Greenpeace USA/flickr

A study on the effects of climate change forecasts the widespread bleaching of coral reefs sooner than expected. Corals in the Dry Tortugas are among those at risk. 

Any change in normal conditions, like unusually warm water, can cause corals to release algae from their tissues. These algae give corals their color and provide their primary source of food.

Coral Kingdom Collection / NOAA

Almost five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, some of the fines collected will go to help the environment in the Florida Keys. This week, the Monroe County Commission is set to decide how to spend the money. 

NOAA

"Maybe it just needs a little love," said Peanuts character Charlie Brown in describing his tiny Christmas tree with branches so fragile a single ornament weighs them to the ground.

Perhaps the same could be said of distressed coral.

Federal scientists believe that a spindly structure resembling an underwater Charlie Brown tree could play a huge role in saving rare coral damaged by the PortMiami deep-dredge project.

Why Lionfish Are Targeted Underwater And Online

Sep 2, 2014
NOAA's National Ocean Service/Flickr

If they weren't such a pest you could almost pity the lionfish.

The creature, after all, is simply doing what it is biologically programmed to do: eat and reproduce. Unfortunately, it has made its way to the reefs off South Florida where it doesn't have natural predators.

So the lovely lionfish has become a menace.

They eat juvenile saltwater species that are commercially and biologically important, like lobster, crab, snapper and grouper. And they eat herbivores like wrasse that help limit algae growth on reefs.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Coral reefs have been under assault for decades from water pollution, coastal construction and overfishing. But coral today face a new and bigger danger – and that matters a lot to South Florida livelihoods.

The federal government is designating 20 more types of coral as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, five of which are prevalent off South Florida’s coast. 

The reason: climate change.

Catlin Seaview Survey

South Florida's coral reefs are getting ready for their close-up.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is teaming up with the Catlin Seaview Survey as part of the Australia-based project's ambitious effort to create a photographic record of the world's coral reefs.

As the Sun Sentinel reports:

Why The Lionfish Really Is The Terminator

Aug 27, 2014
Miami Herald

Central Casting could call on Arnold Schwarzenegger should there ever be a movie made titled "The Lionfish."

That's how efficient a predator the invasive creature has become -- now dubbed "The Terminator." The lionfish has made its way here from its native Indo-Pacific waters -- and not by swimming. Most likely they were released from aquariums after consuming their tankmates.

Oregon State University has just finished a study about the red lionfish, which has taken up residence in the warm water reefs around South Florida and the Caribbean.

Florida Inspectors Say Miami Port Dredging Hurts Sea Life

Aug 20, 2014
Florida Department of Environmental Protection

The $205 million dredge project to deepen PortMiami has spread a blanket of silt and clay over the bay bottom that is smothering coral and damaging sea life, state environmental inspectors have found.

In a letter Monday, the state Department of Environmental Protection warned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is managing the project, that work is violating state permits, churning up too much sediment and having a “profound effect” on the sea floor. The agency gave the Corps two weeks to respond.

National Undersea Research Center

Marine biologists are diving deep for two weeks in August to examine the deepwater coral reefs of Pulley Ridge in the Gulf of Mexico. The aim is to determine how that area connects with the shallower reefs of the Dry Tortugas and Florida Keys.

Getting Your Head Around Climate Change Through Music

Sep 5, 2013
Peter J. Maerz/WLRN

It’s often said that life influences art. And for composer Carson Kievman, life in low-lying South Florida led to a symphony about climate change.

Kievman was composer-in-residence for the Florida Philharmonic during the 1990s, and he now runs the SoBe Institute of the Arts in Miami Beach. But the idea for his symphony, titled “Biodiversity,” came from a scientist at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Most scientists find a topic that interests them and keep digging deeper and deeper into the details. But Ken Caldeira takes the opposite approach in search for solutions to climate change. He goes after the big questions, and leaves the details to others.

Tricia Woolfenden / WLRN

Lionfish are the newest target of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation's (FWC) efforts to use social engagement to tackle the problem of exotic, invasives in the state. The FWC announced last week the launch of its "Lionfish Control Team" photo contest for the month of April.

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