The Florida Reef Resilience Program (FRRP), a collaborative effort to manage Florida’s coral reefs for climate change and other stressors, recently completed a survey of coral bleaching conditions across the Florida Reef Tract. Coral bleaching occurs when corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light or nutrients.
Surveys completed last summer recorded severe bleaching from the Dry Tortugas to Broward County, the worst year since the surveys began in 2005. Partner scientists from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Mote Marine Laboratory, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Nova Southeastern University and Florida Department of Environmental Protection are now participating in additional surveys to determine the impacts on corals from this bleaching event. Results from these surveys will be available in August 2015. Understanding the impacts of coral bleaching will help managers better protect coral reefs, which offer coastal protection, are centers of high biodiversity and provide essential habitat to a wide range of recreationally- and commercially-important species of fish and invertebrates.