The Florida Keys are known for their lush coral reefs and incredible biodiversity. Protected by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Keys support more than 6,000 species of plants, fishes, and invertebrates – including more than 65 species of stony corals. But in the past few years, something has been targeting these corals. NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is pleased to share a new online resource that provides information about NOAA’s response to the coral disease outbreak in Florida. Here’s the link: https://floridakeys.noaa.gov/coral-disease/.
As you may know, this disease outbreak began in 2014 and is unprecedented in geographic range, duration, high rates of mortality and the number of coral species affected. Nearly half of the stony coral species found on the Florida Reef Tract have been affected, including the primary reef-building species in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
- Southeast Florida’s coral reef ecosystem supports 70,000+ equaling $6.4 billion in sales and income annually.
- In the Florida Keys, 58% of all jobs are tied to the reef with marine activities (such as recreational fishing, watersports and tourism) generating $2.36 billion in sales and income annually.
- The reef is a natural buffer for Florida’s shoreline, lessening the strength of waves and protecting human life and property
NOAA is one of several agencies, academic and non-profit organizations responding to the outbreak and Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the lead response agency.
This outbreak, and response, is ongoing. NOAA and the State of Florida have brought together coral experts to document the outbreak, identify the causes, understand the spread of the disease, and to identify and develop innovative, advanced treatments that may slow or stop the disease from spreading.
This web portal will be the primary location for public information about the Florida coral disease event, including on ways you can help. Collaboration is key!