Posted by: reefrescue | November 24, 2009

Whose reef is it anyway?

SCUBA diving community united in search for threatened coral

Not waiting for the National Marine Fisheries Service to make their determination on the Reef Rescue petition to designate most of Palm Beach County as critical habitat for ESA listed coral, the local dive community embarks on a search for more staghorn coral colonies.

The struggle to gain federal habitat protection for the reefs offshore of the Town of Palm Beach is chronicled below in previous Reef Rescue blogs. The Florida Reef Tract along the east coast, south of the Boynton Beach Inlet is now designated critical habitat essential for the survival of ESA listed elkhorn and staghorn corals. Reef Rescue has petitioned the federal government to afford the same protections to the coral reefs offshore of the Town of Palm Beach.

In Palm Beach, they say the rules should be different

Federal habitat protection along the east coast of Florida extends from a depth of 6 out to 98 feet deep. All reef stuctures capable of supporting elkhorn and staghorn coral within the designated area are protected.  Unable to deny the existence of the largest stand of staghorn coral in Palm Beach County, recently discovered offshore of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the Town of Palm Beach backed down on their opposition to habitat protection for some – not all of the neighboring reefs.

The catch – off the Town of Palm Beach they say nothing in less than 45 feet of water should be protected.  Why?  Not much has changed – the reefs interfere with the town’s beach renourishment projects – or so they claim.

The dive community’s search for new staghorn locations is designed to negate Palm Beach’s opposition. Since, once staghorn is found in less than 45 feet of water or anywhere north of Breakers (deep) Reef another of the town’s contrived excuses unravels.

Check with your dive operator for details, some are offering rewards.  All staghorn sightings must be reported to Reef Rescue and verified.

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