Coastal resiliency continues to be a hot topic for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, but this conversation is not limited to what's above the surface. On September 13, 2018 local leaders will convene for the Ocean Land Investments BIG Ideas Conference at the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. The conference is meant to stimulate ideas that will help Broward County take a proactive approach towards dealing with disaster, before it strikes. Sea level rise and storm surge are effects we can see on the ground, but during Tuesday's meeting of the Government Affairs Committee -- a rising concern on the ocean floor became part of the discussion.
Florida’s coral reefs are experiencing a multi-year outbreak of coral disease. While disease outbreaks are not unprecedented, this event is unique due to the number of coral species affected across a large portion of the Florida Reef Tract, and the ongoing nature of the event. The disease outbreak is highly prevalent and is estimated to have resulted in the mortality of millions of corals. In fall 2014, isolated sites with significant coral disease were reported near Key Biscayne in Miami-Dade County by staff with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coral Reef Conservation Program as well as local scientists. By fall 2015, widespread disease was confirmed across approximately 55 linear miles of reef, including locations as far north as Pompano Beach in Broward County and as far south as Biscayne National Park with a few isolated reports in Palm Beach County. Disease continued to spread north and south into the Florida Keys throughout 2016, and by summer of 2017 reports of widespread disease were confirmed as far north as St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County and to the southern boundary of the upper Keys. In 2018 the disease front reached Looe Key, in the lower Keys.
Since 2015, The Departemtn of Environmental Protection and numerous partners from federal, state and local governments, universities, nongovernmental organizations and the South Florida community have been communicating regularly and working together on a multifaceted response effort to:
Document the distribution, prevalence, severity and impacts associated with the disease outbreak;
Experiment with treatments and other interventions;
Seek additional capacity and funding to support more comprehensive response efforts; and
Facilitating stakeholder assistance by creating a region-wide Reef Ambassador program and maintaining SEAFAN and C-OCEANcitizen science programs.
The exact cause and contributing factors for this event will likely take years to identify; however, addressing other known coral stressors (i.e., water quality, turbidity and sedimentation, etc.) will increase the ability of the corals to recover.
Join this vital conversation by clicking here and registering for next week's Ocean Land Investements BIG Ideas Conference. You can also click here for more information on this coral disease outbreak.