Coral relocation completed at Miami Harbor
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Jacksonville District, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the Port of Miami have completed additional relocation of coral colonies as part of a major project to deepen Miami Harbor.
The staghorn corals, known as acropora were relocated by divers during a two-week period in November. Divers recovered a total of 1,059 (10cm) fragments from 211 colonies and transported them to local coral nurseries.
“This work was done in extremely difficult conditions,” said Laurel Reichold, Miami Harbor project manager for Jacksonville District. “Diving next to an active shipping channel made conditions challenging, but the NMFS team performed the relocations successfully; they were great partners.”
"This was truly an extraordinary situation that was unanticipated and we appreciate the swift action taken by our partners who made it a priority to protect these threatened corals," said David Bernhart, southeast protected resources administrator for NOAA Fisheries.
"We will continue to work closely together to relocate the corals from their nursery once the project is completed. This collaborative effort demonstrates ways to apply the protections of the Endangered Species Act while ensuring that vital economic development projects are completed in a timely way," he said.
The corals and fragments will remain in a nursery for a year before they’re transplanted back to natural reefs near Miami. Staghorn corals are a threatened species found throughout south Florida and the Keys. Many of these coral colonies have survived and thrived since the last major dredging of the harbor that took place in 1993.
“The cooperative effort to safely remove and replace corals close to the project site shows that we can protect the environment while undertaking a vital economic infrastructure improvement project,” said Eric Summa, a supervisory biologist with the Jacksonville District.
For more information on the Miami Harbor project, go to the Jacksonville District website located at www.saj.usace.army.mil.
(Updated Dec. 22, 2014)