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.