Florida Reef Resilience Program: 10 Years of Coral Reef Stewardship

The Florida Reef Resilience Program (FRRP) is the largest coordinated coral condition monitoring program in the world. See photos of the program's work as they celebrate 10 years monitoring and protecting Florida's coral reefs.

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FRRP scientists in Dry Tortugas National Park, reviewing their plan before diving to assess the health of the corals. FRRP brings together more than a dozen federal and state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and university partners, to improve and sustain the health of Florida’s coral reefs and the industries that depend on them.

During disturbance response monitoring, an FRRP diver takes photos of bleached or diseased corals.

Coral reefs are one of the Earth’s most productive and biologically diverse natural systems. They provide habitat for more than 1 million species of plants and animals—about 25 percent of all marine life and nearly one-third of all fish

Healthy grooved brain coral (Diploria labyrinthiformis). Brain corals are found in shallow warm-water coral reefs in all the world's oceans. The lifespan of the largest brain corals is 900 years. Colonies can grow as large as 6 feet or more in height.

Bleached brain coral. Corals often respond to stress by expelling the colorful algae that live within their otherwise clear tissues. This phenomenon is called coral bleaching because it reveals the stark white coral skeleton.

An FRRP diver assesses corals at Molasses Reef in the Upper Keys.

“In ten years, FRRP has a achieved a strong record of accomplishments including informing reef managers, providing data to support science-based decision making, and creating an incredible team of experts across organizations who work together seamlessly towards the health and protection of Florida’s coral reefs,” said The Nature Conservancy’s Meaghan Johnson, Marine Science Coordinator.

A typical reefscape in Dry Tortugas with its many species of coral.

The Florida Reef System (FRS) is the largest coral reef ecosystem in the continental US. It spans 358 miles in Southeast Florida—from the Dry Tortugas off Key West, north to Martin County. The FRS is home to many plants and animals including several coral species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

A healthy mustard hill coral (Porites astreoides, in the foreground) among the fish at Molasses Reef in the Upper Florida Keys.

An FRRP diver records data during a survey on the reef.

A view of Loggerhead Key from the boat during a day of work in the field.

“All of the FRRP partners share the vision of beautiful and productive coral reefs, that are healthy and sustainable for all of the reef inhabitants, as well as for the recreational and commercial industries which rely on them,” said Chris Bergh, The Nature Conservancy’s South Florida Conservation Director. “With ten years of stewardship, knowledge, and accomplishments propelling us, we look forward to continuing our understanding of reef resilience and developing strategies to secure the future of the reefs.”

A diver back in the boat after a day of completing coral monitoring surveys.

FRRP is one component of The Nature Conservancy’s international Reef Resilience Network, which brings together managers from around the world and strengthens their ability to protect and manage coral reefs.

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