Posted by: reefrescue | August 19, 2016

Environmental groups sue to protect Fort Lauderdale coral

Environmental groups and the scuba trade association (DEMA) filed suit Wednesday to protect coral reefs from being damaged by a port expansion dredging project in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The groups who fought Port Miami’s massive channel dredge project filed the lawsuit to stop a similar expansion at Port Everglades that they say will damage threatened coral.


Filing suit were Miami Waterkeeper, the Center for Biological Diversity, Florida Wildlife Federation, and the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association. The groups claim the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing the same faulty plan for the Port Everglades project that left 100’s of acres of coral dead in Miami.

“It’s incredibly reckless that the Corps is continuing to move forward without redoing its evaluation based on the dramatic sedimentation impacts that took place at Port of Miami,” Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

Posted by: reefrescue | August 10, 2016

Reef Cleanup Dives

Join us August 13 & 14 for Palm Beach County’s largest 2016, reef cleanup event, 8 boats leaving from several county-wide locations. Jupiter Inlet, Palm Beach Inlet and Boynton Inlet.

PBC2_reef cleanup_2016-08-13

Check with dive operator for specifics.


Posted by: reefrescue | July 8, 2016

Coral Disease Alert

FDEP and FWC are asking divers to report coral disease observations.

There has been a re-emergence of coral disease in SE Florida and the Keys.  It seems that new locations are being affected and current reports include locations as far north as Jupiter.  White plague is still the most prevalent but is not the only disease.  Divers please keep a look-out for affected corals and report your observations to SEAFAN (  If possible include pictures and location information.

Also see:

Reef Rescue volunteer divers document reef damage and request FDEP action.


In their complaint Reef Rescue supplied the FDEP with vessel tracking documentation and reef damage photographs alleging the dredge RS Weeks dragged cables across coral habitat during the Easter weekend while being towed to Boca Raton to perform a beach renourishment project.


Following weeks of in-water inspections FDEP in a May 6, 2016 letter, named Weeks Marine as the potential responsible party for having damaged Breaker’s Reef in Palm Beach and hardbottom damage in Boca Raton, FL. FDEP divers completed multiple in-water surveys between April 5 and April 28 that identified 1.4 miles of damage to Breaker’s Reef.

In a separate incident the DEP contends Weeks Marine damaged nearshore hardbottom coral habitat while performing the beach renourishment project in Boca Raton.

In their letter to Weeks the DEP stated ‘Pursuant to the CRPA [Coral Reef Protection Act], damage to coral reef may result in liability for damages and restoration, compensatory mitigation, and the judicial imposition of civil penalties. Additionally, the responsible party must cooperate with the Department to undertake damage assessment and primary restoration of the coral reef in a timely fashion.

Vessel track RS Weeks

Dredging Florida coral reef is ‘lunacy’ says Philippe Cousteau, grandson of Jacques.


The same dredging plan that killed hundreds of acres of coral reef during Miami port expansion is planned for Port Everglades.

In a September 2015, letter to the Army Corps of Engineers’ (ACOE) a dozen South Florida conservation groups and businesses challenged the expansion plan for Port Everglades. Their letter cited reports from NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, USEPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection documenting coral mortality and damage to the reef habitat that far exceeded what had been permitted for during the Miami Port expansion dredge project. The Miami project smothered over 200 acres of coral reef as far as 3,000 feet beyond what had been anticipated.


The ACOE has refused to reconsider their Port Everglades plan; the same dredging plan used in Miami.

In an effort to obtain additional documentation about the diversity of the fragile coral ecosystem potentially impacted by the Port Everglades dredging, Project Baseline teamed with coalition members to allow coral reef experts including Philippe Cousteau to witness this threatened reef first hand. On March 21 & 22, the state-of-the-art, 146’ oceanographic vessel  Baseline Explorer launched subs and divers  to complete multiple underwater surveys of the coral reefs surrounding the proposed Port Everglades dredging project.


“For Florida to dredge its coral reefs for this project is lunacy”, declared Cousteau after manning a Baseline Explorer two man sub, where he witnessed firsthand Endangered Species Act protected corals and reef habitat found within the footprint of the dredging  project.

Following two days of reef survey’s Miami Waterkeeper’s hosted a reception and tour of the Baseline Explorer.


Link to news article:

Link to coalition letter:

Related stories:

Port Everglades Expansion – A Coral Reef Apocalypse

Emergency injunction sought to halt destruction of Miami’s endangered corals

“This is bullshit,” retired Biscayne Bay boat captain Dan Kipnis. “I’ve never seen a government agency bulldoze the environment and people who care about it and lie, cheat and steal like they have here.”

FDEP inspection finds significant damage to coral from Miami dredge project


Posted by: reefrescue | February 9, 2016

Reef Rescue Fundraiser

Force-E will be hosting a fundraiser for Palm Beach County Reef Rescue.  If you can’t make it to the event stop by your local Force-E Dive Center and donate. Every penny raised will go to Reef Rescue!

ForceE Fundraiser

Purchase your raffle tickets at any 3 of Force-E locations or at the BBQ.
Force-E will be raising money for Palm Beach Reef Rescue with a Raffle…..and guess what they will be raffling off….Go Pro Go Pro Go Pro!!!! That’s right Go Pro is donating items for this event so make sure to purchase your tickets for a chance to win!!!
Plus there are boat trips in the raffle, also a Force-E fill card and Force-E Classes!!!
Purchase your raffle tickets at any 3 of Force-E locations or at the BBQ and Win BIG!
***do not need to be present to win
***ticket prices 1 for $1, 6 for $5, 12 for $10, or an arm span for $20
Join us to help REEF RESCUE continue protecting our reefs.

Posted by: reefrescue | January 8, 2016

Palm Beach silt threatens coral reefs

Here is the text from the local CBS TV News story that was mysteriously taken down only hours after being aired.


Advocacy group and Town of Palm Beach at odds over dredging project

Story by Melissa Howell/CBS12

PALM BEACH (CBS12) — A local advocacy group is pushing back against a dredging project in Palm Beach but officials aren’t saying they’ve done anything wrong.

The Phipps Ocean Park Beach Renourishment project began on Friday.  On Sunday, Ed Tichenor with the Palm Beach County Reef Rescue says silt, a thin grain of sand, was posing some serious threats to the coral reef.

“We found the silt level in the water high above the standard that’s required by the permit that the state issues so they were violating the permit,” says Tichenor.

The standard NTU for how much Silt, or turbidity, is allowed for the project is 29 but Reef Rescue found readings as high as 116.

“If the project generates too much silt, it could smother the coral,” says Tichenor.

But David Olin, an environmental consultant for the town of Palm Beach, says they too did testing and took action.

“We saw that the water quality was elevated.  We took samples and found that they exceeded the permit standards.  At that point, we notified the engineer and the dredge and we shut them down,” says Olin.

The coastal coordinator for the town of Palm Beach says this means no permits were violated and high numbers aren’t unusual at the start of a project. But Reef Rescue is pushing for a closer eye on the project from the state as it moves forward.

Rob Weber is the coastal coordinator for Palm Beach and says “we have our monitors that do all this work for us to ensure that the project doesn’t cause that harm that proven.”

Weber says the cost to stop dredging is already figured into the $16.9 million budget for the project.  Planners say the number one priority is the environment.

The project will take a little over two months to complete and the town says it will continue to monitor the levels of silt to ensure they are not in violation of any permits.



Posted by: reefrescue | December 15, 2015

End of Year Request for Support

Please consider making an end of the year, tax deductible, donation to Reef Rescue at:

Your support of Reef Rescue allows us to continue the work of protecting the fragile South Florida coastal ecosystem.

  • We have been monitoring the dredging in the Port of Palm Beach, on the west side of Peanut Island to ensure compliance with the project permit. So far we have not seen any turbidity problems or impacts to the world renowned Blue Heron Bridge dive site.
  • Dredging near Pauls Reef and Horseshoe off shore of Lake Worth, FL is about to begin for the Phipps Ocean Park beach renourishment. We have concerns about this project due to the poor quality of sand and the anticipated high pumping rates. The Town of Palm Beach will not let us take off or land our drone from within the jurisdiction of the town, making access to the turbidity plume more difficult and expensive since we will have to conduct our monitoring from offshore. We will also be watching the beach renourishment project in Boca this season.
  • This past summer we outfitted several shore divers in Broward County with GPS trackers that interface with their cameras allowing photos to be stamped with lat/long. This was useful in providing documentation of the recent coral bleaching and disease outbreak in that area. The divers are also using this system to capture before and after photos of near-shore reef impacts and burial from the, about to begin, Ft. Lauderdale truck haul beach projects.








We are funded entirely by private donations. Field work, fuel, supplies, equipment and water analysis are expensive, so please help if you can!










Remember the best place to keep up with coral reef related issues is on our Facebook page:


Posted by: reefrescue | December 14, 2015

Call to Action

Palm Beach County Sharks Under Attack

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has decided to open commercial shark fishing to begin January 1, 2016. This will target all species of shark including Lemon, Tiger and Hammerhead sharks.

Lemon Shark

Lemon Shark

A breeding population of Lemon Sharks aggregates each winter in the waters offshore of Jupiter, FL.  Dr. Samuel Gruber, one of the world’s most renowned experts on Lemon sharks, confirmed that this particular aggregation behavior was one of a kind, not known anywhere else in the world. This finding set in motion a highly extensive study under the auspices of Doc Gruber’s Bimini Shark Lab. Information gained from the Jupiter Lemon Shark Project was able to fill in new chapters about this shark’s natural history that were previously unknown

In 2010, findings from Dr. Gruber’s research played an instrumental part in the State of Florida passing into law and granting complete protective status for lemon sharks in state waters. But NOAA has just opened commercial shark fishing in federal waters.

Delaying the commercial fishing season until July will make a huge difference to these animals. Without your help, our Lemon sharks, Tiger sharks, Hammerhead sharks, etc. may be wiped out in just a matter of days. We desperately need your help to prevent it from happening.

Here is a like to a petition:

But we really need you to send a letter to Senator Bill Nelson, such as the one below penned by Richard Apple of Applecorps Photography.

Honorable William Nelson
413 Clematis Street
Suite 210
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Dear Senator Nelson,

I am writing to express my grave concerns regarding our coastal shark populations off the coast of Palm Beach County, FL. NOAA Fisheries has established Final Rules for 2016 permitting commercial shark fishing with each permitted fishing boat/permit to kill between 36 and 45 sharks PER DAY. This is to begin January 1, 2016 and continue automatically without interruption throughout the entire year unless NOAA decides to make a change. Such change would occur no earlier than their next scheduled meeting in March 2016 and, given the time to receive, study and consider changes, any enacted new rules would likely not occur any time soon thereafter.
NOAA Fisheries’ Final Rules were posted and announced November 30, 2015 and they claim that they gave proper notice of their proposed rules earlier in the year. Notification was clearly not widely observed and NOAA Fisheries did not find it within their good consciences to post their proposed rules in more commonly read publications such as local newspapers. They did not think it odd that there was barely a reply from what they know is a huge shark diving community throughout Florida.
Our Southeastern Florida and Palm Beach County economies are benefiting greatly by the draw to our areas of a seriously depleted shark population . . . a depleted shark population that is still greater than most other areas where divers can barely find any sharks to observe. Consequently, there was an immediate and vociferous reaction by our Palm Beach County shark diving operators and divers since the quotas mentioned above could, from our weekly first hand observations while diving with the sharks, serve to wipe out our local shark populations. This is particularly true in the Jupiter, FL area where Lemon and other Sharks aggregate during the start of the winter season in a rather small area.
I immediately started a Petition online which serves to ask NOAA Fisheries to postpone the start of the 2016 until the summer as they did for the last two years when the shark aggregations have ceased and the shark populations are more spread out over a much larger coastal area. In a matter of less than two weeks, my Petition has drawn over 15,000 signatures with some from states all across the United States as well as over 31 other countries. People are outraged that NOAA Fisheries, in the face of global shark populations having been reduced by up to 90%, somehow has decided that the Atlantic Coastal shark populations can withstand a normal commercial shark fishing activity. This will be a devastation to many areas within the Atlantic Coastal Area not the least of which is Northern Palm Beach County. While the State of Florida has formally banned the killing of Hammerhead Sharks, NOAA Fisheries makes no such ban or prohibition in Federal Waters.
In reaction to thousands of emails and phone calls by outraged shark conservationists and concerned citizens, NOAA Fisheries conducted a telephone conference yesterday at 2 PM. It was an insult to thousands who wished to participate since it lasted only 45 minutes, was dominated largely by their own prepared speeches, and only 7 or 8 persons were permitted to ask a question. The audio recording is now available for all to listen.
As to our first hand observations of our dwindling shark populations off Jupiter, FL and the fact that they are dominated by Lemon Shark populations, NOAA Fisheries advised that they had no interest in observing those populations with us as shark divers, believe that Lemon Sharks are not even targeted, and consider any small part of the Atlantic Coastal Area as unworthy of individual data collection no matter how sensitive. They indicated only that they would take that issue under advisement going forward. In the meantime, the quotas of permitted shark fishing would remain as averages across the entire Atlantic Coastal Area regardless of what we believe will be a devastating decimation of our local shark populations. The impact will also be felt in our eco-tourism revenues since divers come from all over Florida, the United States, and even foreign countries to dive with the shark populations which we are very lucky to have to offer.


A link to our Petition, a downloadable copy of the audio file from the telephone conference, and many, many other pieces of information can be found and shared on my Facebook Page, Applecorps Photography which is viewable by any and all Facebook users.

As a U.S. Senator representing the people of Florida including Palm Beach County, we are counting on you to correct this injustice to the people of Palm Beach County. We are counting on you to bring NOAA Fisheries in compliance with the U.S. support and agreement to the CITES document which recognized the plight of world-wide shark populations and to embrace the Shark Sanctuary established The Bahamas by doing the same in all U.S. waters.

Please feel free to have your staff contact me at their convenience and thank you for your prompt attention to this impending and tragic killing of sharks as will begin soon on January 1, 2016.


Richard S. Apple

Posted by: reefrescue | November 10, 2015

Reef Rescue Fundraiser

The 10th annual Kayak-a-thon fundraiser is set for December 12, 2015. Paddle-Boarders Welcome.

This event contributes a significant portion to our yearly financial resources that are used to support our environmental monitoring and coral reef advocacy programs. Please join us if you can.


The annual Kayak-a-thon is one of our the most exciting fundraising activities of the year. Not only does it raise funds to support our coastal conservation projects, it also brings together our family of supporters for a fun filled day of outdoor activity.

Like a walk-a-thon, kayakers and paddle-boarders raise money by collecting donations or pledges for completing the predetermined course. It is similar in format to other physical activity based fundraising events such as marathons and cycling races, but this low intensity, family oriented, non-competitive event is ideal for mobilizing broad-based community support.


There is a limited supply of loaner kayaks available.

We need your HELP. If you can’t attend the Kayak-a-thon, please consider making a donation directly to Reef Rescue: We have a lot on our plate this year. Your donation will enable us to continue monitoring water quality and permit compliance during the Port of Palm Beach channel dredging in the vicinity of the Blue Heron Bridge and the upcoming beach renourishment projects in Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Broward County.

Field work, fuel, supplies, equipment and water analysis are expensive – please help if you can!

If you have any questions about the event or becoming a sponsor contact Brian Lee (561) 843-4109





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