Welcome to the Wellwood Reef Restoration site where youll find up-to-date detailed information about restoration of one of Americas most significant coastal barrier coral reefs. From this site you can learn what is involved in coral reef restoration following a large vessel grounding within a unique marine protected area, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This is one of the many significant management challenges faced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Photo of grounded M/V Wellwood with port side tugboats positioned for removal of vessel from reef. Click image for 300 dpi version. (Photo: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary)
On August 4, 1984, the M/V Wellwood, a 122-meter freighter carrying pelletized chicken feed, ran aground on Molasses Reef within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which was then the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary. Due to complications with removal, the ship remained on the reef for 12 days. The total destruction from the grounding included 5,805 square meters of living corals and injury to 75,000 square meters of reef habitat. It is NOAAs goal to restore physical relief back to the damaged site and encourage natural recovery. In order to do this, reef modules will be placed in the injured areas to provide a substrate for new coral colonization. Subsequent to the physical restoration; biological restoration wil also take place with a mix of techniques including transplants and the facilitation of coral larval settlement.
M/V Wellwood grounded on Molasses Reef. Click image for 300 dpi version. (Photo: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary)
Whenever a grounding occurs within a national marine sanctuary, NOAA can seek damages to cover response, injury and damage assessment, restoration and replacement of the damaged habitat or acquisition of equivalent habitat, and compensation of the public for the value of the damaged resources until full recovery. NOAA has this authority under the National Marine Sanctuary Act 16 U.S.C. 1431 et. seq.
A claim was settled for the M/V Wellwood grounding on December 12, 1986. The responsible parties agreed to pay damage costs through a fifteen year annuity. The costs for both the United States Coast Guard response efforts and the NOAA Sanctuary response and assessment efforts needed to be reimbursed first. The civil penalty and restoration funds were then paid over the remaining years. The final payment installment, which went toward restoration, was received in December of 2001.
Pre-Construction Coral Survey (pdf format)
Environmental Assessment of Wellwood Grounding Site Restoration (pdf format)