Miami Harbor Deepening is an important infrastructure development so that the port can better accommodate bigger produce carrying ships that originate from Latin America and the Caribbean. Included in the improvement is the connection of the railways and highways to the ports.
However, the construction affects the coral colonies situated near the harbor. In order to protect the threatened species, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the National Marine Fisheries Services and the Port of Miami have established a joint effort to save the marine habitat by moving the corals elsewhere while the dredging is being done. Divers were assembled to perform a relocation mission for the staghorn corals (acropora).
Laurel Reichold, the project manager stated, “This work was done in extremely difficult conditions. Diving next to an active shipping channel made conditions challenging, but the NMFS team performed the relocations successfully; they were great partners.”
The divers were able to recover 1059 fragments among 211 coral colonies in a span of two weeks in November. The corals were delivered to the local nurseries and will stay there for approximately one year and then will be transplanted back to their natural environment in Miami.
These corals have survived despite the previous major dredging in 1993 and the local authorities hope that despite the ongoing project operations, marine sanctuaries would thrive.
Jacksonville District biologist, Eric Summa said “The cooperative effort to safely remove and replace corals close to the project site shows that we can protect the environment while undertaking a vital economic infrastructure improvement project.”