Florida Keys sea temperatures

G.P. Schmahl George.Schmahl at noaa.gov
Wed Aug 4 13:53:04 EDT 1999

Eric - Thanks for your interest in the Flower Gardens and Stetson Bank.  As you
no doubt know, these features are part of NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National
Marine Sanctuary.  We are always interested in any observations concerning reef
health and resource conditions within the Sanctuary.  Please copy me with any
interesting observations relating to bleaching, disease or other resource
phenomena for our ongoing database.

As an update to the coral list, as of 7/28/99, there was no observable
bleaching noted at either the East or West Flower Garden Banks.  The Sanctuary,
in conjumction with the Minerals Management Service, has supported a long-term
monitoring effort at the Flower Garden Banks since 1988.  (And other monitoring
efforts were conducted through Texas A&M University dating back to the early
1970's).  The monitoring program is presently being implemented by a research
group from Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, under the direction of Dr.
Quenton Dokken.  This monitoring effort includes the deployment of recording
thermographs which document water temperature at 20 minute intervals.  In
addition, Li Cor light sensors and data loggers have been deployed at both
Banks to measure light intensity at the reef surface.  Unfortuneately, these
are not real-time devices, but recent data from the thermographs and light
sensors were downloaded during the cruise last week.  Therefore, bleaching
(when or if it occurs) can be directly correlated to water temperature and
light intensity regimes.  Surveys of indicators of coral reef health are
conducted throughout the year by sanctuary staff and other researchers in
addition to the full long-term monitoring effort which is carried out in the
late summer.  Typically, if bleaching occurs at the Flower Gardens, it happens
later in the season than in the Florida Keys or other locations in the

Interested parties may refer to the most recent publication of the monitoring
effort data:
Dokken, Q.R.et al. 1998.  Long-term Monitoring of the East and West Flower
Garden Banks, 1996-1997.  OCS Study MMS 99-0005, USDOI, Minerals Management
Service, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, New Orleans, LA.   101 pp.

 The Flower Garden Banks continue to be relatively disease-free.  Incidence of
the types of diseases that have affected other areas in the Caribbean are very
rare.  However, one obvious source of coral mortality is inflicted by intense
grazing of parrot fish.  This can result in areas of stark white dead coral
patches which can cover 1/4 square meter or more, and is sometimes mistaken for
coral disease.  Scientists are unsure why this phenomena is apparently more
intense at the Flower Gardens than other reef locations.

For more information about the research and monitoring program at the Flower
Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, please contact Emma Hickerson, Research
Coordinator at "emma.hickerson at noaa.gov".

EricHugo at aol.com wrote:

> Hi, Jim and list:
> I am going to the Flower Gardens and Stetson Banks in ten days.  I will look
> for evidence of bleaching there, as well as photo-document any noted disease
> or other problems I notice.  I will update you and the list if needed.
> Hopefully, there won't be a single problem there!  If there is anything in
> particular anyone would like me to look for, please let me know by email.
> Eric Borneman

G.P. Schmahl
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
216 W. 26th Street, Suite 104
Bryan, TX   77803

(409) 779-2705
(409) 779-2334 (fax)
george.schmahl at noaa.gov

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