florida tagged posts

Record temps on Florida coast threaten severe coral reef bleaching

Rising temperatures in Florida’s waters due to climate change have sparked an extreme stressor for coral reefs causing bleaching, which has scientists concerned. “In the last year, it’s been really depressing because we’ve seen a lot of changes, and we’ve been monitoring sites from Miami for five years now, and we’re starting to see changes in those sites,” said Michael Studivan, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Health and Monitoring Program.

Just within the last week, as the U.S. South struggles under a heat wave, NOAA has reported Florida water temperatures in the mid-90s Fahrenheit (35 C). Normal water temperatures for this time of year should be between 73-88 degrees Fahrenheit, according to NOAA.

The extreme heat has triggered coral ...

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Scientists Race to Restore Florida’s Nearly Extinct Reefs

On a few nights each August, just days after the full moon, Hanna Koch will be keeping watch at the Mote Marine Laboratory’s outpost on Florida’s Summerland Key, peering into tubs of water at the tentacle-ringed mouths of brilliant green, yellow, and purple corals. Close to midnight, staghorn, elkhorn, brain, and star corals will release tens of thousands of tiny glowing orbs into the water, and Koch will have her only chances of the year to create new generations of the species.

Each orb, or gamete bundle, holds millions of sperm and multiple eggs. In the wild, the bundles would separate, find different partners, and combine to create larvae that would swim and ride currents to settle on reefs...

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Turtles stranded on Florida beaches with mystery illness

The Brevard Zoo Sea Turtle Healing Center has taken in several sea turtles who have mysteriously washed ashore the last couple of days.

Sea turtles along the Florida coast from Jacksonville to Brevard are falling sick and wildlife experts are working hard to find out why. The turtles – primarily Green sea turtles – have been coming ashore from the ocean and lagoons in increasing numbers over the past few weeks. They’re being taken to the Brevard Zoo and to specialty turtle rehab centers around Florida, according to Shanon Gann with the Brevard Zoo Sea Turtle Healing Center. 

“There’s not one specific ailment. Most of them are stranding from the ocean and presenting with lethargy and low glucose,” she said Wednesday. “It’s not boat strikes or a parasite.” 

Dozens of sea turtles too weak to swim have been rescued from just south of Jacksonville to Brevard County over the past few weeks, she said.

Providing en...

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Scientists Race Against Time To Save Coral Off Florida Keys

Scientists reached a major breakthrough recently in their efforts to restore coral off the coast of the Florida Keys. Researchers in South Florida have figured out a way to get coral to spawn more rapidly, which is notable because much of the coral in the Florida Reef Tract is dying. Over the last 40 years, nearly 90% of the live corals that once covered those reefs have died off.

Scientists are using a technique called microfragmentation or reskinning to get coral to reproduce, says Sarah Fangman, superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which is leading a 15-year, $100 million project to restore the coral.

“The Florida Reef Tract is the only barrier reef system that we have in the United States. The only one,” Fangman says...

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Florida’s fight with sea level rise

Florida beach on a beautiful day

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, many people are dreaming of Florida as a retreat from long days of self-isolation. Hundreds of miles of beautiful beaches, azure skies, shimmering oceans, teeming wilderness including barrier reefs and the Everglades, and strands of picturesque keys and islets. But this paradise is staring down a menace of its own — a rising sea level — and it’s time for a paradigm shift to help us save the Sunshine State. How that battle plays out will have huge implications for other coastal regions across the rest of the United States.

Floridians are experiencing the undeniable impacts of sea level rise firsthand on a daily basis. For Florida’s environment, the signs of danger and damage are everywhere. Saltwater is inundating the Florida Bay, exacerbating an...

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Battered By Bleaching, Florida’s Reefs Now Face Mysterious Disease

Erinn Muller is science director at the Mote Marine Lab in the Florida Keys

At Mote Marine Lab’s Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration in the Florida Keys, Joey Mandara is like a baby sitter. But instead of children he tends to thousands of baby corals, growing in large, shallow tanks called raceways. Mote has been doing this work for five years, raising corals from embryos into adult colonies, then planting them on Florida’s reefs. Now, the emergence of a new, debilitating coral disease makes his work more important than ever.

In one raceway, Mandara says fragments of brain coral have grown quickly in this controlled environment.

“The brain coral were eight fragments,” he says. “And over time, they’ve grown out and have now fused into each other, becoming one coral that will hopefully over time become sexually mature.”

Mote lab’s science director Erinn...

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Florida now more vulnerable to storm surges

Divers gardening

As we begin to piece together the damage from Hurricane Irma in Florida, scientists are pointing to an environmental factor that may have made the storm’s impact worse: the ongoing loss of coral on the state’s increasingly threatened barrier reef.

At 360 miles long, the Florida Reef Tract is the third-largest barrier reef in the world, stretching from the Florida Keys up to Martin County. But as The Washington Post reported just a few months ago, the reef is in big trouble — scientists estimate that less than 10 percent of it is covered with living coral, the result of a long history of damage that, most recently, includes warming waters and back-to-back bleaching events in recent years.

Now, scientists say these losses may have weakened the reef’s storm buffer.

Research demo...

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Divers taught gardening to save Florida’s Reef

Divers gardening

The beauty of south Florida’s coastline isn’t just skin-deep. Below the water lies a crucial habitat of coral, home to hundreds of species of marine plants and animals. But the beauty of the only tropical reef system in the continental U.S. is vanishing.

“Over the past 30 to 40 years, we’ve seen a drastic decline in coral cover… and it’s mostly been due to climate change,” said Stephanie Schopmeyer, a University of Miami marine biologist who’s working to save the species.

In just one decade, the reef lost nearly half its coral cover. The system stretches more than 300 miles along Florida’s coast.

CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez and his team set out with Schopmeyer to see the Rescue a Reef program in action...

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Florida’s Coral Reef Is Disintegrating

Florida Reef

Florida’s coral reef, the only tropical reef in the continental United States, is disintegrating faster than scientists predicted and in a way that will accelerate as the oceans become more acidic, according to new research published Monday.

University of Miami scientists called the collapse of the reef’s limestone framework, a critical habitat for fish, “unprecedented” and “cause for alarm.”

“Lots of scientists think that ocean acidification is not going to be a problem until 2050 or 2060,” says Chris Langdon, a marine biology professor at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “This is happening now. We’ve just lost 35 years we thought we had to turn things around.”

Coral reefs around the world have been in decline fo...

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