The Coral Club in Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park
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Hi, my name is Katie Slattery and I work with the Biscayne National Park Coral Club I am learning to work with Student Conservation Association as a coral restoration intern. ( music playing throughout ) This film is about Biscayne National Park’s Coral Club, a program that invites the general public to get hands on experience in coral restoration. Biscayne National Park is home to over fifty-five species of coral, including two species of Acropora, called staghorn and elkhorn coral, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Coral reefs have both economic and environmental importance. They create a storm buffers and act as nurseries for many fish and invertebrate species. Visitors also enjoy fishing, diving, and snorkeling on coral reefs. Sadly, many of our coral reefs are routinely injured and destroyed by vessel groundings. The Coral Club was started in 2008, and presents a chance for the public to get involved in reef restoration efforts. To be a volunteer, you need to be over 15 years old, and be willing to work hard to help in the restoration effort. The Club usually meets about once a month, and in the past year, we have met 14 times. Club volunteers have worked for a total of over 375 volunteer hours. Our volunteers come from all walks of life and range from high school students to retirees. Over the past year, the Coral Club has been involved in a study of corals that were broken when a vessel ran aground on a Park reef. The result of this study will help with making decisions on how to treat injured coral in the event of future vessel groundings. In July of 2010, Park staff along with Coral Club volunteers collected the damaged coral from the reef site. The coral we collected was transferred up to the University of Miami’s Experimental Hatchery on Key Biscayne. ( splash ) ( drilling ) We then used a drill to fragment the corals heads into small discs, which were each glued onto 4x4 travertine tiles. In October, with the help of volunteers, half of the coral fragments were transplanted back onto the reef from where we collected them. The other half of the tiles were kept at that laboratory. Using a computer program that digitizes the pictures that our volunteers take, we are able to obtain data such as diameter, perimeter and area of each fragment. Using this data we are able to determine the growth rates of the coral. By comparing the growth rates of the lab-reared coral to those of the field-reared coral, we can make more informed decisions on the treatment of damaged coral after vessel groundings. So far, the coral in the lab is showing great growth rates and great overall health. Unfortunately, in the field, of the 154 coral fragments that were outplanted, 21 have either become detached or are unidentifiable. In the ones that are still in the study, we are seeing signs of necrosis along the edges of some of the fragments. We will continue to measure both sets of coral fragments in the upcoming months. The Coral Club is a great way to give the general public a chance to get real-life experience in the field of coral restoration and to learn more about life underwater. Thanks for watching and I hope you learn a little bit about what we do with our program and I hope to see you at our next event!
The Coral Club in Biscayne National Park. Hosted by Katie Slatery.