Coral researchers at AOML unveiled a new state of the art experimental laboratory this spring at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel campus. The new “Experimental Reef Laboratory” will allow NOAA scientists and colleagues to study the molecular mechanisms of coral resiliency. Modeling studies indicate that thermal stress and ocean acidification will worsen in the coming decades. Scientists designed the Experimental Reef Laboratory to study the combined effect of these two threats, and determine if some corals are able to persist in a changing environment.
Scientists found that microbes and their genetic material from land-based sources of pollution could be found in reef water and in tissues of corals. This could affect the genomics of the native microbial communities found in coral reefs, which can impact how corals thrive and survive. These new insights highlight an additional potential threat to corals from land-based sources of pollution in southeast Florida, where corals are already under existential threat from warming oceans and resulting coral bleaching, disease and mortality.
The California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) cruise sampling was completed on April 21st aboard NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada.
Coral scientists recently traveled to the Galapagos Islands to document coral reef health following the 2016-17 El Niño Southern Oscillation event (ENSO), which bathed the region in abnormally warm waters. Historically, these events have triggered coral bleaching and large-scale mortality, as seen in response to ENSO events of 1982-83 and 1997-98. Interestingly, these same reefs exhibited minimal bleaching in response to this most recent event. Scientists are determining whether this response is due to differing levels of heat stress, or an increased tolerance to warm water in the remnant coral communities.
Warm ocean water can be a killer for coral reefs, and AOML recently developed a new inexpensive sensor to drastically improve our ability to measure and monitor changing temperatures on reefs at an unprecedented scale. The low cost sea temperature sensor, known as InSituSea, costs roughly $10 in parts to produce while providing high accuracy (0.05-0.1 C) in measurement. With a production cost that is 10% of an off-the-shelf temperature sensor, colleagues have expressed strong interest in deploying the InSituSea sea temperature sensor at coral reefs around the world.
Tidal flooding from events such as the so-called “King Tides” and “Super Tides” are flooding urban coastal communities with increasing frequency as sea levels rise. These tidal flood waters can acquire a wide range of contaminants and toxins as a result of soaking in the built environment of urbanized coastlines. A multi- institutional, interdisciplinary research team, including scientists from AOML, is examining the types of contamination picked up from the urbanized coastal landscape and transported into coastal waters through tidal flooding.
Coral Health and Monitoring Program (CHAMP) researchers at AOML have worked cooperatively with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), headquartered in Belize, over the past several years to install Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) stations at key coral reef sites in countries throughout the Caribbean. CREWS stations monitor an array of atmospheric and oceanographic parameters to assess the health and integrity of coral reefs. The stations are part of the CCCCC’s efforts to strengthen the Caribbean region’s ability to respond to climate variability, extreme weather conditions, pollution, and habitat change.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, measured changes in the reef framework in several naturally high-carbon dioxide settings near Papua New Guinea. For the first time, scientists found increased activity of worms and other organisms that bore into the reef structure, resulting in a net loss of the framework that is the foundation of coral reef ecosystems.
Photo Essay Adjacent to Everglades National Park, Florida Bay encompasses the shallow waters, mangrove islands, and grassy banks between mainland Florida and the Keys; an area about 1,000 square miles in size. With an average depth of only 3 feet, the bay is home to a number of marine populations as well as a […]
With an average depth of only 3 feet, the Florida Bay is home to a number of marine populations, as well as a vital nursery ground for commercial and recreational reef fish species. The Florida Bay also plays host to a group of NOAA researchers who are investigating how habitat changes in Florida Bay are impacting juvenile sportfish populations, with a focus on the spotted seatrout.