Local Coral Reef Systems
A gallery of stony coral and hydro coral species commonly found in the waters of South Florida.
What is the Great Florida Reef System?
The Great Florida Reef is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States. It is the third largest coral barrier reef system in the world. It lies a few miles seaward of the Florida Keys, is about 4 miles wide and spans to the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County. Southeast Floridas reefs support a rich and diverse assemblage of stony corals, octocorals, macroalgae, sponges, and fishes.
Who is tring to protect them?
The Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) coordinates research and monitoring, develops management strategies, and promotes partnerships to protect the coral reefs, hardbottom communities, and associated reef resources of southeast Florida.
Through its role in supporting Florida’s membership on the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, and the U.S. All Islands Committee, the CRCP leads the implementation of the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative and contributes to the National Action Plan to conserve coral reefs. The CRCP is also charged with coordinating response to vessel groundings and anchor damage incidents in southeast Florida, and developing strategies to prevent coral reef injuries.
Why are living corals valuable?
Coral reefs are valuable natural resources. They protect our coasts by reducing wave energy from storms and hurricanes. They serve as a source of food and shelter and provide critical habitat for numerous species, including commercially important fisheries. Many medicines as well as other health and beauty products are derived from marine plants, algae and animals found on coral reefs.
Why Should we protect them?
Coral reefs are a marvelous resource for recreation, education, scientific research, and public inspiration. Millions of tourists and local residents enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing on Florida’s coral reefs. These activities provide a tremendous source of income for Florida and its coastal communities. It is estimated that natural reefs in Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties generate $3.4 billion in sales and income and support 36,000 jobs in the region each year (Johns, Milon & Sayers, 2004; Johns, Leeworthy, Bell & Bonn, 2001).