Featured Coral Publications
Below is a sampling of publications generated by NOAA's coral ecosystem activities. Visit the Featured Archive to see a past list of highlighted publications. To access a complete list of NOAA coral ecosystem related publications, use the CoRIS Geoportal (https://www.coris.noaa.gov/search/) search tool.
The Socioeconomic Component of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program (NCRMP) gathers and monitors a collection of socioeconomic data in seven U.S. coral jurisdictions. The team started its second monitoring cycle with data collection in South Florida in 2019, and recently released their report of summary findings along with a new infographic. The report outlines current human dimensions information relevant to coral reef resources in South Florida, as well as trends between the first (2014) and second monitoring cycles, while the infographic focuses solely on the 2019 findings. Survey results are representative of each of the five counties adjacent to Florida’s coral reef tract: Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe.
This project report describes a novel approach to develop a spatially explicit model to predict the frequency of low-stand events. This will help guide the selection of restoration sites, and identify both sites at future risk and those with greater refuge from low-stand events that could benefit from increased management. Benthic surveys to evaluate mortality were undertaken at 18 sites around Guam that experienced significant coral mortality from recent extreme low-tide events or were strategically selected for geographic representation around the island. At these sites, tidal variations were logged over five-week periods, and critical depth thresholds (e.g., past subaerial exposure) were determined. The tidal data from the sites were correlated with long-term data from the Apra Harbor tide gauge on Guam. Using the derived relationships and depth thresholds, and modifying a model used to predict high-tide (or nuisance) events, spatially-explicit predictions of vulnerability to subaerial exposure were produced (see map). This analysis has demonstrated the applicability of the methodology to other sites in the Pacific region, such as American Samoa and the Saipan Lagoon in CNMI, each of which has experienced similar, significant, recent coral loss.
Recent losses of Dendrogyra cylindrus from the wild have been due largely to the panzootic of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD). In 2016, a multi-institutional collaboration began rescuing the remaining genotypes from the wild and placing them into ex situ and in situ nurseries. NOAA NOS NCCOS Coral Health and Disease Program (Charleston SC) conducted exploratory treatments to recover and rehabilitate D. cylindrus genotypes. This NOAA Technical Memorandum chronicles over four years (2016-2019) and seven collection and rescue events, experimental treatments, and rehabilitation of Dendrogyra cylindrus genotypes afflicted with SCTLD from Florida reefs.
Florida's Coral Reef stretches approximately 360 linear miles from St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County past Key West to the Dry Tortugas, including Biscayne National Park, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area.
In 2014, NOAA Coral Reef Watch wrote about the prospect for a 2014-2015 El Niño which, while not fully formed, helped start a three-year global coral bleaching event. The 2014-2017 global coral bleaching event was the third ever documented and is currently on record as the longest, most widespread, and most damaging bleaching event. It affected more coral reefs than any previous global bleaching event. In some coral reef areas, including reefs that had never bleached before, heat stress was the highest ever recorded, lasted for many months, and caused mass bleaching reef-wide.
Stony coral tissue loss disease was first observed in south Florida in 2014. As of September 2020, it has spread to 13 Caribbean countries and territories. The outbreak is unique due to its large geographic range, extended duration, rapid progression, high rates of coral mortality, and the number of species affected. Once infected, coral colonies typically die within weeks to months. While the cause of the disease is still unknown, it is believed that the pathogen may have a bacterial component due to its response to antibiotic treatments. Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease can be transmitted to other corals through direct contact and water circulation. Recently, leadership from Indo-Pacific countries and territories shared concerns that the disease could spread into the region.
In response to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study on coral interventions, NOAA developed an action plan. The NOAA Action Plan on Coral Interventions will guide how NOAA approaches coral interventions in the next one to three years. The plan encompasses four actions for NOAA: (1) research and test priority interventions, (2) develop local or regional structured decision support, (3) review policy implications of coral interventions, and (4) invest in infrastructure, research, and coordination.