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December 2020 Edition of the Southeast Florida Reef Review

Saving Massive Corals in the Coral ECA
By Kristin Anderson, Research Assistant
Nova Southeastern University’s GIS and Spatial Ecology Lab, led by Dr. Brian Walker, is combating coral reef degradation by working to preserve the largest and oldest corals – the key reef-builders of Florida’s Coral Reef. Corals that are more than five feet in diameter are classified as “massive.” Since corals grow slowly, sometimes just one centimeter per year, their size indicates they have survived a variety of stressful conditions over a long period of time. The lab evaluates the health of 90 of the largest, most ecologically valuable coral colonies in the Coral ECA every month. Frequently visiting these colonies helps researchers identify recent mortality or disease lesions and allows response teams to conduct disease interventions to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible. Saving these colonies is imperative to preserve the shoreline protection benefits healthy reefs provide and to prepare for future restoration. Story Map: Saving the Exceptional Corals in the Coral ECA

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