SEAKEYS Abstract

Coral Health and Monitoring Program coral at coral.AOML.ERL.GOV
Thu Jul 27 19:29:06 EDT 1995

As part of our continuing effort to distribute information regarding 
coral health and monitoring, we are circulating the following 

Ogden,-J.C.; Porter,-J.W.; Smith,-N.P.; Szmant,-A.M.; Jaap,-W.C.; 
     Forcucci,-D.1994. A long-term interdisciplinary study of the 
     Florida Keys seascape. BULL.-MAR.-SCI. 54(3):1059-1071 

The SEAKEYS (Sustained Ecological Research Related to Management 
of the Florida Keys Seascape) program is a research framework 
which encompasses the large geographic scale and long time scale 
of natural marine processes and ecosystem variation upon which 
human impact is superimposed. The need for interdisciplinary 
long-term research in coastal ecosystems in critical as we 
anticipate extraordinary resource management obligations and 
scientific opportunities in the next decade. The core of the 
program is six instrumented, satellite-linked monitoring stations 
which span the 220 mile-long coral reef tract and Florida Bay and 
which, since 1991, have documented the potential impact of summer 
heating, winter cold fronts, storms, and distant floods. Meso- 
scale physical oceanographic studies have documented the net flow 
of water from Florida Bay to Hawk Channel which provides a 
potential mechanism to link water quality in Florida Bay with the 
waters of Sanctuary. Water column and sediment nutrient studies 
have shown elevated nutrient levels in nearshore waters 
decreasing sharply to low levels near the offshore coral reef 
tract. There is a potential link of nearshore and offshore via a 
seaward deflection in the near-bottom flow. Regional nutrient 
dynamics are complicated by periodic upwelling driven by the 
Florida Current. A series of long-term photomosaic stations have 
tracked coral community dynamics for more than 5 years and have 
indicated a loss of over 40% in coral cover at some sites. This 
loss may be linked to declining water quality in Florida Bay. As 
a large marine ecosystem, the new Florida Keys National Marine 
Sanctuary and adjoining parks and reserve must be studied and 
managed holistically if human use of the region is to be 

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