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National Park Service (NPS) scientists and managers converged on the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from July 7-11 to share their experiences and knowledge of coral reef ecosystem conservation, education and management strategies with more than 3,500 national and international attendees. http://www.nova.edu/ncri/11icrs/
The NPS Natural Resource Program Center also launched a colorful web portal, Coral Reefs in the National Parks, at the ICRS in celebration of the 2008 International Year of the Reef: www.nature.nps.gov/water/coralreefs/
And on Friday, July 11, NBC Nightly News aired a story from Biscayne National Park, Climate Change Threatens Coral Reefs. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/25642862#25642862
Threats to coral reefs have never been greater from ever increasing fishing pressures, rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, coastal development and physical impacts, as reported at the ICRS.
Staff from the coral reef Parks and South Florida/Caribbean and Pacific Islands Inventory and Monitoring Networks reported on their efforts to find science-based solutions to these problems through a total of ten symposium talks and poster presentations. NPS programs benefited from evaluating and disseminating their findings with resource managers and scientists, including, among other topics:
Catastrophic losses in coral cover in US Virgin Islands follow 2005-06 coral bleaching and disease event;
Development and implementation of a marine monitoring program in the National Park Service Pacific Island Network (PACN);
Stony Coral Status and Trends in Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida, USA): 1975-2007; and,
Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration in the National Park Service: Coral Reef Vessel Grounding Case Studies in Biscayne National Park.
Two NPS booths attracted throngs of visitors in the ICRS exhibit hall where staff from Biscayne National Park helped to raise awareness of the value and importance of coral reefs in the Parks and threats to their sustainability, and to motivate people to take action to protect them. See www.nature.nps.gov/water/coralreefs/ for more information on NPS coral reef programs.