• Purple, yellow, gold and orange sponges and soft corals wave against a turquioise sea.

    Biscayne

    National Park Florida

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  • Boat Tours, Paddle-craft Rentals and Select Conveniences Temporarily Unavailable

    Glass-bottom, snorkel, diving and island boat tours, and rentals for canoes and other paddle-craft, are temporarily unavailable. The park is working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and regrets the inconvenience. Limited snack items are available.

Coral Reef Restoration

reef and nurse shark

Nurse shark on a coral reef in Biscayne National Park

A. Bourque

Biscayne National Park is known for its beautiful coral reefs that provide habitat for fish, invertebrates, and other organisms; protect the coastline of South Florida and attract thousands of visitors each year.

 
Propeller and broken coral

Propeller shaft ripped from vessel following reef strike

A. Bourque

While reefs may look "hard as a rock", the calcium carbonate material that reefs are made of is actually very fragile. Unfortunately, when vessels run aground on shallow coral reefs, the reefs can be seriously damaged or destroyed.

 
Broken coral at vessel grounding site

Broken coral at vessel grounding site

A. Bourque

Vessel groundings cause different types of injuries to coral reefs. The reef itself may be cracked, broken, or pulverized. Loss of structure reduces the reef's habitat quality, and increases the risk of further damage from erosion.

 
Spilt coral colony at vessel grounding site

Split coral colony at vessel grounding site

A. Bourque

Reef organisms that grow on the reef such as stony corals, octocorals, and sponges may be detached or broken by the grounded vessel. Because most corals grow extremely slowly, only an inch or two per year, loss of living coral is of great concern.

 
Hull paint embedded in coral

Hull paint embedded in coral

A. Bourque

The anti-fouling bottom paint from the hull of the vessel may become embedded in the reef. This paint is toxic to marine organisms, and will prevent recovery of reef creatures wherever it is found.

 
Vessel sinks after striking reef

Vessel sinks after striking reef

A. Bourque

Vessel groundings on coral reefs may also result in costly damage to vessels and personal property.

 
Rebuilding a reef

Rebuilding a reef

A. Bourque

The Habitat Restoration Program at Biscayne National Park conducts restoration at vessel grounding sites where the reef has been damaged, with the goal of accelerating recovery of these valuable resources.

 
Rebuliding a reef

Rebuilding a reef

A. Bourque

The type of restoration work conducted at a given site depends on the type of injuries that are found there. When the structure of the reef has been damaged, the reef is rebuilt to recreate lost structure.

 
Rebuilding a reef
Rebuilding a reef
A. Bourque
 
Rebuilding a reef
Rebuilding a reef
A. Bourque
 
Collecting reef rubble

When the reef has been pulverized, rubble is stabilized so it won't cause additional damage if moved around by waves and currents.

 
Reattaching coral to the reef

Reattachingn coral to the reef

A. Bourque

Broken corals and other reef organisms are reattached to the reef in an attempt to save as much live tissue as possible. Concrete is used for larger pieces, and cable ties are used for smaller pieces.

 
Using cable ties to reattach broken corals to the reef
Using cable ties to reattach broken corals to the reef
D. Williams
 
Scraping hull paint off coral

Scraping hull paint off of coral

L. Canty

Hull paint is scraped off the reef so that organisms may recolonize those areas.

 
Reconstructed reef

Reconstructed reef

A. Bourque

Restoration sites are monitored for a period of several years to track site stability and recovery of injured resources.

Did You Know?

Dante Fascell Visitor Center

Biscayne National Park's Dante Fascell Visitor Center's architecture is based on the old "House of Refuge" on Miami Beach, a place for shipwreck survivors to take shelter.