Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

NOAA/NASA

It’s easy to see the effects of Hurricane Irma on land in the Florida Keys. But the impacts underwater were also significant — and may last longer.

Florida Fish And Wildlife Commission

  The boat that ran into a patch reef off Key West recently left without reporting the grounding. But it left some pieces behind.

"Essentially, this is a hit-and-run on the coral," said Sean Morton, superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. "We're on the lookout for a very large boat that is missing one prop and has probably a very large dent and damage to the hull on the front."

Phillip Dustan / International Coral Reef Initiative

The lead scientist on a study that surveyed the health of Caribbean coral reefs over 50 years says climate change is not the most severe threat facing coral reefs.

The Florida Keys reef is among the unhealthiest reefs in the Caribbean, said Jeremy Jackson, who grew up in South Florida and first visited the Keys in the late 1940s.

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.