Combining Oral Histories with Data Visualization to Illustrate Decades of Change in the Florida Reef Tract

As part of a NOAA Heritage Project, National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) staff partnered with various organizations to present an audio and visual retrospective of the Florida Reef Tract over the last few decades. NCEI staff conducted interviews to collect firsthand accounts from scientists, divers, and others with firsthand knowledge of how reef conditions have changed in Florida. These interviews were combined with visualizations and maps produced from data acquired by regional stakeholders and taken from the NOAA archive to form a human-centered and approachable retrospective of Florida's reefs over time presented as an ESRI Story Map.

Florida Grecian Rocks 1959/1998 photo comparison The past several decades have seen a dramatic decrease in coral cover including a decline in large reef building corals. (Photo credit: Eugene A. Shinn and Ilsa B. Kuffner)
Voices from Florida's Changing Coral Reefs - Story Map

Florida's Coral Reefs are incredibly unique and beautiful, but they are also rapidly changing. View the Voices from Florida's Changing Coral Reefs story map (created by the NCEI Story Map Team) to hear first-hand accounts of the challenges and successes facing Florida's Coral Reefs from the scientists, divers, and fishers committed to its recovery.


The full-length interviews for each of the stakeholders who participated in this project are in the process of being archived with the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service's Voices Oral History Archive in the following collection:

Coral Cover Video

The Visualization of Florida's Coral Reef video developed by David Bock (XSEDE) shows a dramatic rise in Florida's coastal population followed by a general decline in coral cover across the majority of long-term monitoring sites monitored by the Coral Reef Evaluation and Monitoring Project and the Southeast Coral Reef Evaluation and Monitoring Project (Video Transcript).

Project Partners

Special thanks to the NCEI Story Map Team, David Bock, Shay Viehman, Sarah Groves, Jeremiah Blondeau, Ajay Iyer, Jetson Ku, Josie Danckaert, Rebecca Wenker, Sarah O'Connor, Brian Beck, Dana Wusinich-Mendez, the Coral Reef Evaluation and Monitoring Project and the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Evaluation and Monitoring Project for their technical assistance and support with data analysis.

Additional thanks to all of the interviewees who generously donated their time and expertise to this project: Karen Angle, Will Benson, James Bohnsack, Lisa Carroll, Don Demaria, Ian Enochs, Sarah Fangman, Don Field, Bill Goodwin, Laura Jay Grove, Pamela Hallock-Muller, Jim Hendee, Loren McClenachan, Margaret Miller, Alison Moulding, Jason Nunn, Valerie Paul, Shana Phelan, Otto Rutten, and Walt Jaap.

For more information regarding the Florida Reef Track NOAA Heritage Project please contact:

Zachary Mason
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information