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A team of researchers including scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, published new findings that reveal significant damage to Miami's coral reefs from the 16-month dredging operation at the Port of Miami that began in 2013. The study found that sediment buried between half to 90 percent of nearby reefs, resulting in widespread coral death.
The results, published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, estimate that over half a million corals were killed within 550 yards (500 meters) of the dredged channel, and that dredging impacts may have spread across more than 15 miles (25 kilometers) of Florida's reef tract.
Reefs - Declines - Climate - Change - Andrew
"Coral reefs worldwide are facing severe declines from climate change," said Andrew Baker, associate professor of marine biology and ecology at the UM Rosenstiel School and senior author of the study. "If we want to conserve these ecosystems for the generations that come after us, it's essential that we do all we can to conserve the corals we still have left. These climate survivors may hold the key to understanding how some corals can survive global changes. We have to start locally by doing all we can to protect our remaining corals from impacts, like dredging, that we have the ability to control or prevent."
The researchers reanalyzed data originally collected by consultants as part of the dredge's environmental monitoring program. This program had attributed most of the documented coral losses in the area to a region-wide outbreak of coral disease that occurred at the same time. The new study controlled for these impacts by looking at losses of coral species that were not susceptible to the disease and by testing whether corals closer to the dredge site were more likely to die during the dredge period than those further away. The new analysis revealed...
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