Miami Terrace Reef

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Bamboo corals on Miami Terrace Reef 15 miles off the coast of Miami, Florida. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer

The Miami Terrace Reef (25°45′N 79°55′W / 25.750°N 79.917°W / 25.750; -79.917)[1] is a coral reef off the coast of Florida stretching from South Miami to Boca Raton, in the Atlantic Ocean. It lies in depths of 650 to 2,000 feet (200 to 610 m) on top of a geological formation known as the Miami Terrace, a 40-mile (65 km) long shelf about 15 miles (24 km) off shore.[2] Much of the platform remains unexplored, and new portions of the reef are still being discovered. University of Miami researchers discovered new reef sites there in December 2005.[3]

The terrace consists of long and well-defined[4] rocky ridges made of limestone that provide a habitat for many types of corals, sponges, and fish.[5] Fish species observed there include wreckfish, barrelfish, and bright red alphonsinos.[6] Recently observed intertebrate species have included Lophelia pertusa coral, stylasterine hydrocoral (Stylasteridae), bamboo coral (Isididae), and various sponges and octocorals. Motile invertebrates such as crabs and urchins have also been observed there, including Asteroporpa sp. ophiuroids, Stylocidaris sp. urchins, Mollusca, Actiniaria, and Decapoda crustaceans (Chaceon fenneri and Galatheidae).[7]

Corals on the terrace are vulnerable to the effects of bottom trawling and dredging,[8] and the Miami Terrace has been proposed for protection from these activities.

History[edit]

Studies done primarily by the University of Miami (UM) in the 1970s surveyed the Miami Terrace geological formation. Biologists also retrieved samples of reef fauna.[7] John Reed, with Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, observed dense aggregations of 50 to 100 wreckfish there in May 2004 during a submersible dive.[5] A UM team with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations Ocean Exploration program discovered[9] new reef sites there in December 2005 using an autonomous underwater vehicle.[10]

Location of the Miami Terrace Reef. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer (cropped).

Conservation[edit]

The Miami Terrace and other areas of deep sea coral can be damaged by certain kinds of fishing gear such as bottom trawling or dredging.[8] Areas on the Miami Terrace and a series of biogeographically similar areas were approved in 2004 for protection from these activities through the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council but were never finalized. Neighboring coral areas that have also been considered for protection include the Pourtales Terrace to the south, an area known as Savannah-East Florida, and Stetson Reef to the north.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Gazetteer of Undersea Features". Department of Defense, Defense Mapping Agency. Retrieved 2006-06-22.
  2. ^ "Harbor Branch Team to Conduct First Comprehensive Monitoring Survey of Deepwater Reefs" (Press release). Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. 2006-05-31. Archived from the original on 2006-06-26. Retrieved 2006-06-21.
  3. ^ "Drug Discovery Team to Explore Newly Discovered Deep-sea Reefs" (Press release). Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. 2006-05-17. Archived from the original on 2006-06-26. Retrieved 2006-06-21.
  4. ^ "Day 6: Exploring Unknown Deep-Sea Biomedical Resources". @Sea Florida Frontiers. Archived from the original on 2004-07-04. Retrieved 2006-06-22.
  5. ^ a b "2005 Deep Corals Expedition". NOAA Ocean Explorer. Retrieved 2006-06-22.
  6. ^ "Deep Predators of the Miami Terrace". NOAA Ocean Explorer. Retrieved 2006-06-22.
  7. ^ a b Louis Daniel; George Geiger; Robert K. Mahood; Gregg T. Waugh (October 28, 2004). "Overview & Recommendations of the Joint Meeting of the Habitat Advistory Panel and Coral Advisory Panel" (PDF). South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 19, 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-22.
  8. ^ a b "Effects of Trawling and Dredging on Seafloor Habitat". National Academies Press, National Research Council. Archived from the original on 2006-09-18. Retrieved 2006-09-27.
  9. ^ "Search For Bumps And Pits On The Bottom". NOAA Ocean Explorer. Retrieved 2006-06-22.
  10. ^ "Florida Deep Corals 2005". NOAA Ocean Explorer. Retrieved 2006-06-22.

External links[edit]