Posted by: reefrescue | June 16, 2010

When Oil and Coral Collide

Kelly Cobiella reports: 

Coral reefs are home to a quarter of all ocean life, but they’re now fighting for survival and soon there will be a new threat to their existence as the oil spill worsens.

This CBS video shows a staghorn coral nursery in the Florida Keys. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, NOAA awarded the The Nature Conservancy a grant to operate staghorn coral nurseries in Florida and the US Virgin Islands. The grant will fund all or part of 57 partner positions needed to develop large scale, in water coral nurseries and grow roughly 12,000 corals in Florida to enhance coral populations at 34 degraded reefs from the Dry Tortugas through Broward County. In Florida, the nurseries are found from the Keys to Ft. Lauderdale.

Staghorn background

After determining that greater than 90% of staghorn coral had died in the last 25 years, the federal government added staghorn coral to the Endangered Species List in 2006. In Florida waters, staghorn coral is found along the entire Florida Reef Tract from the Keys to Palm Beach.

Why no nurseries in Palm Beach County?

When the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) was in the process of delineating the staghorn coral critical habitat protection area, the Town of Palm Beach petitioned the feds to exclude Palm Beach County from the protection zone. NMFS had originally proposed including all of Palm Beach County within the staghorn critical habitat area, but after the Town of Palm Beach objection, NMFS axed the area eliminating Palm Beach staghorn coral colonies from critical habitat protections.

Why does the Town of Palm Beach oppose protecting staghorn coral habitat?

Click the image below to learn more.

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