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2007 Florida Keys Mission
Mission info 2007 Nancy Foster Cruise

The Nature Conservancy's Florida Keys Reef Resilience Program

Kerry Grimshaw, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Cory Walter, Mote Marine Laboratory

The Florida Reef Resilience Program (FRRP) brings scientists, reef managers and resource user groups together to develop strategies to improve the health of Florida's reefs and enhance the economic sustainability of reef-dependent commercial enterprises.

Coral reef transect being conducted in the Dry Tortugas
Coral reef transect being conducted in the Dry Tortugas. (Photo: Mote Marine Laboratory staff)
Coral Bleaching Monitoring

Surveying reefs that experience coral bleaching can provide clues to a given coral species' or a given reef areas' resilience by determining which corals and reefs resist bleaching and which "bleach" but then recover rather than perish. Corals often respond to stress by expelling the colorful algae that live within their otherwise clear tissues. This phenomenon is called "coral bleaching" because it reveals the stark white coral skeleton. During the hottest, sunniest months of the summer, when bleaching is most likely to occur, the Conservancy coordinates a network of scientific divers from public agencies, universities and other non-governmental organizations spanning the region from the Dry Tortugas to the St. Lucie Inlet on Florida's east coast. Data from these surveys is allowing scientists to zero in on which corals and which reefs have proven to be more or less resilient in years past by measuring coral species diversity, abundance, size and condition.

Data being entered into the existing FRRP database.
Data being entered into the existing FRRP database.

During September 23 - 30, 2007 a team of divers, Kerry Grimshaw (FKNMS, Damage Assessment and Restoration Program) and Cory Walter (FKNMS/Mote BleachWatch Coordinator) conducted strategic FRRP surveys (Figure 1) during the annual Florida Keys Coral Disease and Condition Survey aboard the NOAA ship Nancy Foster. During this research cruise the team conducted surveys at 35 locations from Carysfort Reef in Key Largo westward to the Tortugas Banks. The data collected was added to the existing FRRP database (Figure 2) and will build on current surveys conducted at random pre-selected locations along the Florida reef tract by partners of the FRRP program.

Florida Reef Resilience Program Partners

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The Nature Conservancy
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
University of South Florida
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative
World Wildlife Fund
Florida Institute of Technology
Mote Marine Laboratory
Nova Southeastern University
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS)

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