Mission: Iconic Reefs
NOAA and partners have launched an unprecedented effort to restore seven ecologically and culturally significant coral reefs within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Informed by years of research, successful trials, and expertise, the mission represents one of the largest investments ever undertaken in coral restoration. By focusing additional efforts on coral reef habitat, Mission: Iconic Reefs complements NOAA's ongoing Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Restoration Blueprint and management plan.
The effort to put Florida Keys coral reefs on track for recovery is an enormous undertaking, requiring long-term collaboration between many partners. A cross-NOAA team is engaging world-renowned scientists, local restoration partners, and other federal and state agencies to save these important, iconic resources.
Using the best available restoration science, we will restore diverse, reef-building corals at seven reef sites within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary:
- Carysfort Reef. (PDF, 2 pages)
- Horseshoe Reef. (PDF, 2 pages)
- Cheeca Rocks. (PDF, 2 pages)
- Newfound Harbor. (PDF, 2 pages)
- Eastern Dry Rocks. (PDF, 2 pages)
- Sombrero Reef. (PDF, 2 pages)
- Looe Key Reef. (PDF, 2 pages)
These sites represent the iconic diversity and productivity of Florida Keys coral reefs. They span the geographic extent of the region, a variety of habitats, and a range of human uses. They also have a history of restoration success, or have characteristics that indicate restoration is likely to succeed.
Eastern Dry Rocks
NOAA and partners have begun a three-year effort to outplant more than 60,000 fragments of nursery-raised coral at Eastern Dry Rocks Sanctuary Preservation Area off Key West. This is the first large-scale endeavor dedicated to Mission: Iconic Reefs, the unprecedented effort to restore seven coral reefs within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Eastern Dry Rocks contains a concentration of bank reef habitats that are ecologically and economically important to the Florida Keys. The elkhorn and staghorn corals that are being transplanted in more than nine acres there include a high number of distinct genetic strains representing the historical diversity found on these reefs, and genotypes that have exhibited the highest survival and growth rates. Practitioner partners that will assist in the outplanting grew the corals in their respective nurseries over six to eight months.