We’re asking divers and boaters to report any damage they observe to the coral reef ecosystem offshore of Delray Beach and Boynton.
March 2, 2013, the Texas, the largest dredge in the US, moved into position to begin the massive Delray beach renourishment project. The project which runs roughly from Linton Blvd. north to Atlantic Ave., will add 1.2 million cubic yards of sand to 1.9 miles of beach. The project is expected to take 30 to 45 days for completion.
March 1, was the beginning of sea turtle nesting season, but the contractor was granted an extension to allow dredging to continue during the nesting season. The contractor was also granted a variance from the State to extend the turbidity silt plume to 1000 meters (3280 ft.) from the beach discharge point, because they argued they could not comply with the standard 150 (492 ft.) meter zone due to extremely high pumping rates and silt content in the offshore dredge borrow area.
This is the first beach renourishment project since this area was designated by the federal government as habitat critical to the survival of staghorn coral, which was added to the Endangered Species list in 2008. Oddly the permit issued for this project makes no mention of staghorn coral, but does address sea turtles and manatees as ESA listed species that occur within the project area. There is abundant growth of staghorn coral on Seagate Reef, less than 500 ft. from the offshore sand dredging location.
Silt accumulation on the reef can severely affect the survival of the resident staghorn coral. We are asking local divers and boaters to keep a close eye on this area and report any abnormalities to Reef Rescue.
To add insult to injury the Boynton Beach Inlet dredge project is starting the same time as Delray. This project last performed in 2008, had numerous permit violations documented by Reef Rescue that resulted in enforcement action being taken. These two projects encompass over 7 miles of coastline. That’s a lot to monitor. And that’s why we are asking for your help. Report your observations by calling (561) 699-8559. If you get an answering machine, leave a message, we are in the water and will get back to you ASAP. Your information is invaluable.