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2007 Florida Keys Mission
Mission info 2007 Nancy Foster Cruise
 

Expedition 2008
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

bleached coral
Elkhorn coral. (Photo: Paige Gill, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary)
The mortality of reef-building corals has increased to unprecedented levels during the past three decades in the Caribbean region, including the Florida Keys. At the same time, the incidence of coral diseases has increased within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Most of the disease processes and contributing factors are not well understood, and little information is available on the broad-scale distribution, frequency, and intensity of coral diseases.

Quantitative assessments of the prevalence of coral diseases and bleaching in the Florida Keys are necessary to help fill basic information gaps. Accordingly, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf Ecology Division, in collaboration with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, has established a program to assess coral health.

bleached coral
Pillar coral, although beautiful, is rare in the Florida Keys.. (Photo: Howard Hudson, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary)
Reef sites throughout the Florida Keys were established in 1997, first assessed in spring 1998, summer 1998, spring 1999, and August 2000, and generally have been surveyed annually since then. In 2007, the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster was used to assess coral health in all locations where permanent stations have been established. (Click here to read last year's mission logs) and the work continues this year. Follow the researchers' work in the mission blog links in the upper right of this page.


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