John Ogden jogden at
Tue Oct 7 14:27:42 EDT 1997

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

CONTACT:	Alyson Simmons
		(305) 292-0311

Sanctuary Zones to be Monitored for Effectiveness

KEY WEST -- The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, through the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has awarded a grant of $200,000
for the  first year of an anticipated 5-year program to the Florida
Institute of Oceanography (FIO) to coordinate an inter-disciplinary
group of university investigators in a coral reef monitoring and research
program in the protected areas of the Sanctuary.  

The program is part of a larger effort to determine the effectiveness of
the newly established no-take zones in protecting marine biodiversity.
The program will study the coral reefs of the 9 square mile Western Sambos
Ecological Reserve off Boca Chica near Key West and several other smaller
protected areas in comparison with other coral reefs open to commercial
and recreational fishing, marine life collecting, and other uses.
Sanctuary Superintendent, Billy Causey, said: "Marine "no-take" reserves
have attracted world- wide attention as potentially useful tools for
managers to sustain fisheries and the health of coastal areas.  We have an
unprecedented opportunity in the Keys to study how they work."

	The team, led by John Ogden director of the FIO, a consortium of 
Florida's universities, will begin the monitoring program in October with
a survey of potential sites inside and outside of the protected areas.
They will be supported in the field by the personnel, vessels, and diving
facilities of the National Undersea Research Program of the University of
North Carolina Wilmington in Key Largo and by staff and vessels of the
Sanctuary and the FIO.

	Once locations are selected for intensive study, the program will
use a variety of techniques to assess similarities and differences between the
reefs of protected areas compared with those outside.  "Our hypothesis, based
on work elsewhere in the world, is that we will see increases in the numbers
and size of principal reef animals and plants within the protected areas
within three to five years," Ogden said.  

	Richard Aronson of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama is in charge 
of the scientific program and will use underwater video, analyzed by
state-of-the-art computer techniques to catalog the number, size, and area
coverage of corals and other prominent reef organisms including sponges,
sea whips, and sea fans.  "The videotapes will form a permanent record of
change inside and outside of the protected areas and can be searched at
any time if, for example, a particular organism is of interest," Aronson
said.  Robbie Smith of the Bermuda Biological Station for Research will
use precision photography to study the growth and mortality of juvenile
corals which settle as larvae from the plankton.  Margaret Miller of the
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of
Miami will study the algae inside and outside of the protected areas.  "As
marine plants grow rapidly, we expect that the algae may be the first
organisms to respond to the changes induced by the "no-take" regulations,"
Miller said.

	The team will pay special attention to smaller reef organisms such 
as shrimp, mollusks and other invertebrates that are specially targeted by
collectors and tourists.  Other related monitoring programs will study the
larger organisms of the Keys reefs including conchs and commercially
harvested fishes and lobsters.  

	"The Western Sambos Ecological Reserve is unique in the U.S. as the
only large "no-take" zone within a much larger area zoned for multiple
uses," Causey said.  It serves as a reference area to gauge the impact of
human uses on the coral reef, a potential source area for larvae and adults 
to replenish other areas of the Sanctuary, and as an economically
important area for tourism and regulated recreational diving and
snorkeling.  "Using the leverage provided by the monitoring program
support, we hope to raise funds in the immediate future from private
sources for studies on the replenishment function of marine
reserves and on their impact on the local economy," said Ogden.

For further information contact:

John C. Ogden, Director
Sandra L. Vargo, Assistant Director
Florida Institute of Oceanography
830 First Street South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Tel: 813-553-1100
Fax: 813-553-1109


Billy Causey, Sanctuary Superintendent
Ben Haskell, Science Coordinator
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
P.O. Box 500368
Marathon, Florida  33050

Tel: 305-743-2437
Fax: 305-743-2357

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