Florida Reef Restoration Successful
December 16, 2011 2:36:06 PM
The 35-foot long boat Lagniappe II plowed into a reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in August 2002. The boat's owner paid $56,671.27 in a negotiated settlement to partially cover the costs he had incurred for the American public. The money partly covered the restoration of the 376 square-feet of living coral he damaged.
NOAA went to work reattaching 473 corals, then monitored the reef's progress as it regained its health. NOAA researchers used photos and a specialized computer program to study the numbers and types of coral in the damaged area.
By 2009, the reattached coral looked just like a nearby area used as a reference. Another year later, and the damaged reef had more coral that the reference area.
"The monitoring allowed us to document changes to the restored coral and measure the success of this restoration," said Hatsue Bailey, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary restoration biologist in a press release.
"With continued use of these methods, as well as additional monitoring, we learn more about habitat changes at this location and improve upon existing restoration strategies," said Bailey.
Improving restoration techniques may help NOAA deal with the hundreds of vessel groundings that occur every year in the Florida Keys.
The results of the restoration "Lagniappe II Coral Reef Restoration Monitoring Report, Monitoring Events 2002 to 2010, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Monroe County, Florida," are publicly available.
Following a 2002 boat grounding near Key West, restoration biologists assessed the damage and reattached broken corals. (NOAA)
Coral monitoring in 2010 showed that restored corals were thriving eight years after restoration. (NOAA)