Case Studies -
Experimental Oculina Research Reserve Slide
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Slide Show Narrative:
Off of central Florida's Atlantic coast, submarine ridges
are home to thickets of Oculina varicosa, also
known as ivory tree coral. Slow-growing, branchlike,
and delicate, healthy stands of this coral provide shelter
for groupers, sea bass, red snapper, and beautiful invertebrates.
By the early 1990s, however, much of the Oculina habitat
was destroyed, mostly from bottom trawl fishing. Fish
stocks were severely depleted and coral was reduced
to rubble. Since 1994, the area has been designated
as a reserve. Here bottom fishing is prohibited to protect
standing coral that remains, and clusters of concrete
"reef balls" have been deployed to help reestablish
coral habitat. Scientists are encouraged by the Banks
early signs of revival where several fish species have
colonized these experimental structures.
John Reed, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
Chris Koenig, Florida State University
US Geological Survey
NOAA Ocean Explorer Web Site
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