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Coral, Seagrass & Shellfish

Coral reefs, seagrass meadows and shellfish beds are vital components of the nearshore marine ecosystems providing habitat for diverse flora and fauna as well as shoreline protection from waves and tidal influences. Although these ocean floor organisms thrive in nutrient poor environments, they are extremely sensitive to water quality, silt and sedimentation. The introduction of nutrients from agricultural run-off, mining waste disposal, and industrial pollution are very harmful and often lead to competitive algal blooms which block sunlight and deplete oxygen levels. Other human interventions such as the introduction of exotic species and the unsustainable harvesting of fish, shellfish and crustaceans have disrupted the food web and overall ecological balance.


Coastal Living Habitats
Data for coral reefs and seagrasses and other “submerged aquatic vegetation” are available for many areas, but these data have not been synthesized to produce national estimates. (A federal task force has developed a 5–7-year plan for mapping all coral reefs in U.S. waters.) Data on the area of shellfish beds are available, but changes in the area covered by monitoring programs may obscure changes in the area of shellfish beds.

Coral Reef Targeted Research and Capacity Building Program
The Coral Reef Targeted Research and Capacity Building (CRTR) Program is a leading international coral reef research initiative that provides a coordinated approach to credible, factual and scientifically-proven knowledge for improved coral reef management.

International Society for Reef Studies
The principal objective of the Society is to promote for the benefit of the public, the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge and understanding of coral reefs, both living and fossil. To achieve its objectives the Society holds annual meetings and co-sponsors other gatherings, prints and distributes the journal Coral Reefs and the newsletter Reef Encounter, and raises funds and receives contributions by way of subscriptions and donations.

National Coral Reef Institute
The National Coral Reef Institute (NCRI) at the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center was established by Congressional mandate in 1998. NCRI’s primary objective is the protection and preservation of coral reefs through applied and basic research on coral reef diversity, assessment, monitoring, and restoration coupled with education and training of scientists, managers, and educators.

NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Conservation Program supports effective management and sound science to preserve, sustain and restore valuable coral reef ecosystems.

Reef Education Network
An interactive website that provides a good introduction to coral reefs for children and adults alike.

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