Thursday, February 04, 2010

(Schmidt - me - diving in Florida)

The year 2010 has been disruptive with a very cold and brutal winter reaching farther south than normal.

It's been so bad that Florida's coral reefs appear to have suffered severe damage.
In a piece titled ‘Thermal Wimps’: Florida Cold Snap Freezes Corals to Death" Meaghan Johnson writes in the Nature Conservancy web site that in 50 ft all seemed normal,

"But as we moved inshore, the percent of recent mortality increased, just as our partners had said. When we reached our in-shore site in 12 feet of water, my heart sunk as I dove down on the lifeless skeletons of what was once a beautiful patch reef teaming with life. The water was cold, the corals were stark white, and parrotfish laid lifeless on the bottom of the reef. I knew instantly that we had to do something to quickly document this rare and unfortunate event."

While we have all been concerned with global warming and its impact of the reefs these reef are on the borderline where cooler temperatures were good for the reefs in the past. Now it appears that severe cold can in just a matter of days kill shallow coral which has taken 200 or more years to establish itself.

I have dived these reefs off Key Largo and Key West and they were small but teeming with life, colorful and healthy. What a shame to see them go down like this.

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