Patch of hopeful coral in Florida Reef

"Say hello to the corals." A cruise ship leaves Port Everglades.
“Say hello to the corals.” A cruise ship leaves Port Everglades.
Staghorn corals grow below, perhaps even directly under this ship.

Having healthy corals growing underneath all the cruise and cargo ships entering Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades is bizarre, and now researchers have found even more of them. New maps and surveys show large patches of the endangered staghorn coral running the entire length of Broward County, as reported in the L.A. Times.

 "B Bischof/Marine Photobank."
Staghorn coral can be propagated by clippings, giving another source of hope to reefs (by B. Bischof/Marine Photobank).

It’s even more surprising when you consider that staghorn coral is rapidly disappearing from the Keys, which has a small population of about 80,000 people, yet it’s growing nearby a shoreline with several million people. How is this possible? That mystery deserves a full investigation. One theory is that a warming ocean makes temperature conditions more favorable at higher latitudes. Too bad corals can’t walk–or fly like the snowbirds.

I hope someone will offer to take me diving soon to see these splendid corals. For now, you can fly over them by visiting the map on this page from Nova Southeastern University (scroll down to “South Florida Coral Reef Mapping Flyby” on right side), and select Watch our Video! As the map moves north from Miami, notice the three almost parallel lines–those are the three reef ridges. So, so close to shore and those millions of people–yet somehow stayin’ alive.

If that map makes you dizzy, try this psychedelic view of the Strait of Florida from outer space. The warm-water corals of the Florida Reef grow inside (slightly west of) the shallow areas shaded white (click on dot for Florida Slope). Notice the red area for Florida’s lesser known, deep and cold-water reefs. Deep reefs have even more coral species diversity than shallow reefs!

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