Florida Keys Monitoring Inventory

photo of barrel sponge

The monitoring projects in the following inventory take place in or around Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Projects are conducted by either Sanctuary staff or by our partners. Summary information is presented for each.

For more information about the monitoring activities at Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, please click here, and review the Sanctuary Condition Report.

Contact the research coordinator at the Sanctuary for additional information.


Coral Reef Evaluation and Monitoring Project (CREMP)

Lead Rob Ruzika (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)
Objective Monitor fixed coral reef and hard-bottom stations for coral diversity, cover, diseases, boring sponges, and other parameters.


Method Visual surveys along fixed transects for some parameters; analyze video frames for percent coral cover and other parameters.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1996 - present Annual

Links http://ocean.floridamarine.org/FKNMS
Partners Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
Keyword(s) coral, disease, sponges

Water Quality Monitoring Project

Lead Dr. Henry Briceño
Objective Monitor a wide range of water quality parameters (nutrients, salinity, turbidity, and phytoplankton biomass) within the sanctuary.


Method Trends in water quality are monitored at 154 fixed stations from Key Largo to the Dry Tortuga, and collection of samples sent for lab analyses. Project is part of a larger south Florida effort including Florida Bay, part of southwest Florida shelf, and other coastal waters.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1995 - present Quarterly

Links http://ocean.floridamarine.org/FKNMS
http://serc.fiu.edu/wqmnetwork/FKNMS-CD/index
Partners Florida International University
Keyword(s) nutrients, salinity, turbidity, phytoplankton biomass

Seagrass Monitoring Project

Lead Dr. James W. Fourqurean (Southeast Environmental Research Center)
Objective Monitor distribution and abundance of seagrass species as well as demography and production.


Method Assess trends in seagrass communities through long-term sampling at a few fixed sites; also monitor broader seagrass populations through less-intensive, one-time sampling at randomly selected locations within the sanctuary.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1997 - present Quarterly for fixed stations, annual for random stations

Links http://ocean.floridamarine.org/FKNMS_WQPP
Partners Florida International University
Keyword(s) seagrass, water temperature, photosynthetic active radiation, depth, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen

Rapid Assessment and Monitoring of Coral Reef Habitats

Lead Dr. Steven L. Miller, Mark Chiappone (NOVA Southeastern University, University of North Carolina at Wilmington)
Objective Surveys of coral community structure and associated organisms for comparisons between fully protected marine zones and reference sites.


Method Visual surveys of belt transects by divers.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1998 - present Annual

Links http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/research_monitoring/rapid
Partners Rosentiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
Keyword(s) coral, no-take zones, community structure

Reef Fish Monitoring

Lead NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
Objective Survey reef fish populations for comparisons between fully protected marine zones and reference sites.


Method Visual surveys by stationary divers.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1979 - present Annual

Links http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/species/fish/reef
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/species/fish/DailyUpdate
Partners Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, United States National Park Service
Keyword(s) reef fish, population, no-take zones

Volunteer Reef Fish Monitoring

Lead Reef Environmental Education Foundation
Objective Survey reef fish populations for comparisons between fully protected marine zones and reference sites.


Method Visual surveys by stationary divers.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1994 - present Annual

Links www.REEF.org
http://reef.org/programs/monitoring#FKNMS
Partners NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
Keyword(s) reef fish, population, no-take zones

Spiny Lobster Monitoring

Lead Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Objective Survey spiny lobster populations for comparisons between fully protected marine zones and reference sites.


Method Visual surveys by roving divers.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1997 - present Annual

Links http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/crustaceans
http://research.myfwc.com/engine/download
Partners Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
Keyword(s) spiny lobster, no-take zones

Queen Conch Monitoring

Lead Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Objective Survey queen conch aggregations to monitor stock recovery.


Method Visual surveys of belt transects or total counts.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1997 - present Annual

Links http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/
Partners Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy
Keyword(s) queen conch, aggregations, population, recovery

South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Program

Lead U.S. DOI Office of Everglades Restoration Initiatives
Objective Survey physical and water quality parameters across Florida Bay, part of the Southwest Florida Shelf, and part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.


Method Water quality data is collected via an array of instruments and sensors distributed throughout the system.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1995 - present Bi-monthly (monthly in Florida Bay)

Links http://www.sfrestore.org/
Partners NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Keyword(s) water quality

Florida Reef Resilience Program

Lead The Nature Conservancy
Objective The Florida Reef Resilience Program (FRRP) is a collaborative effort among managers, scientists, conservation organizations and reef users to develop resilience-based management strategies for coping with ocean warming and other stresses on Florida's coral reefs.


Method Information Not Available

Status Duration Frequency
Active Information Not Available Information Not Available

Links http://FRRP.org
Partners Information Not Available
Keyword(s) Information Not Available

Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS)

Lead Dr. Rusty Brainard (NOAA's PIFSC - CRED)
Objective ARMS deployments within the FKNMS will lead to a better understanding of global patterns of biodiversity of largely understudied marine organisms. In addition the ARMS can provide a baseline of cryptic invertebrate biodiversity which can be used to monitor changes over time in response to climate change and ocean acidification.


Method Information Not Available

Status Duration Frequency
Active Information Not Available Information Not Available

Links http://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/cred/arms.php
Partners Information Not Available
Keyword(s) Information Not Available

Atlantic Ocean Acidification Test-bed Project (AOAT) - Moored Autonomous pCO2 (MAPCO2) Buoy

Lead Dr. Dwight Gledhill
Objective Information Not Available


Method Information Not Available

Status Duration Frequency
Active Information Not Available Information Not Available

Links http://www.coral.noaa.gov/research/climate-change/
Partners Information Not Available
Keyword(s) Information Not Available

Marine Ecosystem Event Response and Assessment (MEERA) Program

Lead Cory Walter, Tropical Research Laboratory
Objective This project is designed to provide early detection and assessment of biological events occurring in the Florida Keys and surrounding waters. The goal of the project is to help the scientific community better understand the nature and causes of marine events that adversely affect marine organisms, and assist ongoing research efforts to assess and monitor events as they develop.


Method Specially trained volunteers known as the Florida Keys "BleachWatch" observers collect field observations to monitor for signs of coral bleaching.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 2000 to present Monthly

Links http://isurus.mote.org/Keys/meera.phtml
Partners Mote Marine Laboratory
Keyword(s) seagrass, coral reef, fish kills, red tide, die off, observation, volunteer, Florida Keys

Bleach Watch

Lead Erich Bartels and Cory Walter, Tropical Research Laboratory
Objective Information from NOAA's remote sensing and in-situ environmental monitoring analysis are combined with "BleachWatch" volunteer observations in the field to provide a comprehensive overview of "current conditions" throughout the FKNMS.


Method Volunteer-based in-situ data collection.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 2005 to present Seasonal

Links http://isurus.mote.org/Keys/bleaching.phtml
Partners Mote Marine Laboratory, NOAA Coral Reef Watch, FKNMS
Keyword(s) coral reef, bleaching, coral disease, water temperature, volunteer, Florida Keys

Red Tide and Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring

Lead Erich Bartels and Cory Walter, Tropical Research Laboratory
Objective Respond to reports of possible "red tides" throughout the Keys to verify the presence of K. brevis and, if present, determine cell concentrations, as well as to collect samples for cell culture and toxicology studies.


Method Network of volunteer "Marine Observers" who maintain a watch for and report discolored water or fish kills.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 2000 to present Seasonal

Links http://isurus.mote.org/Keys/red_tide.phtml
http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/hab/beach_conditions.html
Partners Mote Marine Laboratory, FWC Florida Wildlife Research Institute, NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services
Keyword(s) coral reef, red tide, fish kill, volunteer, Florida Keys

Coastal-Marine Automated Network (C-MAN)

Lead NOAA's National Data Buoy Center
Objective The Coastal-Marine Automated Network (C-MAN) was established by NDBC for the NWS in the early 1980's. The development of C-MAN was in response to a need to maintain meteorological observations in U.S. coastal areas. Such observations, which had been made previously by USCG personnel, would have been lost as many USCG navigational aids were automated under the Lighthouse Automation and Modernization Program (LAMPS). In all, approximately 60 stations make up C-MAN.


Method C-MAN station data typically include barometric pressure, wind direction, speed and gust, and air temperature; however, some C-MAN stations are designed to also measure sea water temperature, water level, waves, relative humidity, precipitation, and visibility.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1988 to present Hourly

Links http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/maps/Florida.shtml
http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/data_menu.shtml
Partners NOAA's National Data Buoy Center
Keyword(s) lighthouse, meteorological payload, anemometer, temperature, air pressure, Florida Keys

National Water Level Observation Network (tide gauge)

Lead NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS)
Objective The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) of the National Ocean Service (NOS), an organizational element of NOAA, operates and maintains a network of approximately 200 long-term National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON) stations as part of the National Water Level Program (NWLP) for the United States coast and in the Great Lakes. NWLON stations are the foundation for reference stations for NOAA's tide prediction products, and serve as controls in determining tidal datums for all short-term water-level stations.The data continuity, the vertical stability and careful referencing of NWLON stations have enabled the data to be used to estimate relative sea-level trends for the Nation.


Method Data-collection platforms are capable of measuring other oceanographic parameters in addition to water levels, including meteorological parameters.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1913 to present Every 6 minutes

Links http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=kywf1
http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/data_menu.shtml?
Partners NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS)
Keyword(s) coral reef, tide gauge, water level, Florida Keys, Key West

FKNMS Thermograph Project

Lead FKNMS Science Coordinator
Objective The purpose of this project is to document bottom seawater temperature in strategic areas of the Florida Reef Tract on a continuing basis and make that information available to management and research user groups. A total of 38 subsurface recording thermographs have been deployed in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) and at other selected locations on the Florida Reef Tract and associated hydrologic ecosystems.


Method Sea-Bird Electronics, Inc.* and Onset HOBO data logger recording thermographs are used, specifically models SBE-39 and U22-001, respectively.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1988 to present Annual

Links Information Not Available
Partners Information Not Available
Keyword(s) Water temperature, thermograph, in-situ, coral reef, Florida Keys