M/V WELLWOOD Coral Reef Restoration Monitoring Report Monitoring Events 2004-2006 Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Monroe County, Florida
J. Harold Hudson, Jeff Anderson, Erik C. Franklin, Joe Schittone, Alice Stratton
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
This document presents the results of the first two monitoring events to track the recovery of a repaired coral reef injured by the M/V Wellwood vessel grounding incident of August 4, 1984. This grounding occurred within the boundaries of 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), 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 on July 22, 2002, and thus far two monitoring events have occurred; one in the Fall of 2004, and one in the Summer/Fall of 2006.
The monitoring has consisted of: assessment of the structural stability of restoration modules and comparison of the coral recruitment conditions of the modules and reference sites. Corals are divided into Gorgonians, Milleporans, and Scleractinians and (except where noted) recruits are defined as follows: Gorgoniansmaximum size (height) 150 mm at first monitoring event, 270 mm at second; Milleporansmaximum size (height) 65 mm at first event, 125 mm at second; Scleractiniansmaximum size (greatest diameter) 50 mm at second event (only one species was size-classed at first event, at smaller size). Recruit densities at the restored and reference areas for each event are compared, as are size-class frequency distributions. For the Scleractinians, number and percentage of recruits by species, as well as several common biodiversity indices are provided. Finally, a qualitative comparison of recruit substrate settlement preference is indicated. Generally, results indicate that restored areas are converging on reference areas, based on almost all parameters examined, with one noted exception. Further monitoring is planned and the trends are anticipated to continue; close attention will be paid to the indicated anomaly.
Keywords: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, coral, grounding, restoration, reef modules, monitoring, Wellwood, Molasses Reef, recruitment, Anthozoa, Hydrozoa, Octocorallia, Hexacorallia, Gorgonacea, Anthoathecata (Millepora), Scleractinia