Coral Reef Restoration Monitoring Report Monitoring Events 2004-2007 Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Monroe County, Florida

J. Harold Hudson, Joe Schittone, Jeff Anderson, Erik C. Franklin, Alice Stratton
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

M/V ALEC OWEN MAITLAND Coral Reef Restoration Monitoring Report Monitoring Events 2004-2007 (pdf, 2.6 MB)
This document presents the results of the first three monitoring events to track the recovery of a repaired coral reef injured by the M/V Alec Owen Maitland (hereafter referred to as the Maitland) vessel grounding incident of October 25, 1989. This grounding occurred within the boundaries of what at the time was designated the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary (NMS), now designated the Key Largo NMS Existing Management Area within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). Pursuant to the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA) 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq., and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Protection Act (FKNMSPA) of 1990, NOAA is the federal trustee for the natural and cultural resources of the FKNMS. Under Section 312 of the NMSA, NOAA has the authority to recover monetary damages for injury, destruction, or loss of Sanctuary resources, and to use the recovered monies to restore injured or lost sanctuary resources within the FKNMS. The restoration monitoring program tracks patterns of biological recovery, determines the success of restoration measures, and assesses the resiliency to environmental and anthropogenic disturbances of the site over time.

To evaluate restoration success, reference habitats adjacent to the restoration site are concurrently monitored to compare the condition of Restored reef areas with "natural" coral reef areas unimpacted by the vessel grounding or other injury. Restoration of the site was completed in September 1995, and thus far three monitoring events have occurred; one in the summer of 2004, one in the summer of 2005, and the latest in the summer of 2007. The monitoring has consisted of: assessment of the structural stability of restoration armor units and comparison of the biological conditions on the restoration armor units with those of the Reference area. Monitored corals are divided into Gorgonians, Milleporans, and Scleractinians. Densities at the Restored and Reference areas are compared, and are shown to be approximately equal. Size-class frequency distributions for the most abundant Scleractinian are examined, and reveal that the Restoration is converging on the Reference area. Also, for the Scleractinians, number and percentage of colonies by species, as well as several common biodiversity indices are provided, and measures for the Restored area exceed Reference values. A quantitative comparison of colony substrate settlement preference in the Restoration area is provided for all Orders, and for Scleractinians is further broken down for the two most frequent Genera. Finally, some inter-annual comparisons for Gorgonians and Scleractinians are presented. Generally, results indicate that Restored areas have greater coral density and biodiversity than Reference areas.

Keywords: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, coral, grounding, restoration, reef armor units, monitoring, Maitland, Carysfort Reef, recruitment, Anthozoa, Hydrozoa, Octocorallia, Hexacorallia, Gorgonacea, Anthoathecata (Millepora), Scleractinia

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