In 2009, FWRI received federal stimulus program funds for a
project to establish a nursery for threatened corals and a project
to monitor oyster growth on newly created oyster reefs.
In 2009, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's
Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) received federal
stimulus program funds for two projects, one to establish a nursery
for threatened corals, and the other to monitor oyster growth on
newly created oyster reefs.
FWRI's South Florida Regional Laboratory in Marathon received
stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
(ARRA). The funds come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration's (NOAA) Restoration Center through The Nature
Conservancy. These funds were provided to establish a coral nursery
in the Middle Florida Keys. The nursery is part of a larger
collaborative effort with The Nature Conservancy, the Coral
Restoration Foundation, Mote Marine Laboratory, the University of
Miami, and Nova University to expand and establish nurseries in
South Florida. In addition, this effort helps the economy of South
Florida through the creation of new professional jobs using
To establish the Middle Florida Keys nursery, FWRI
will: 1) collect fragments of staghorn coral (Acropora
cervicornis) from colonies along the reefs of the Middle
Florida Keys and grow them in the nursery; 2) collect tissue
samples from each wild coral colonies for genetic analysis; 3)
collect coral fragments that have been broken off from the coral
colony (for example, by storms or vessels) that are unlikely to
survive at their current location; and 4) place colonies of the
nursery-reared corals onto the reefs of the Florida Keys.
This project will be a major step in restoring staghorn coral to
the reefs of the Florida Keys.
FWRI's Molluscan Fisheries research group also received ARRA
funds through a cooperative project overseen by Martin County's
Coastal and Water Quality group in association with CSA
International, Inc. Martin County was awarded a NOAA grant as part
of the stimulus program to create up to 200 acres of oyster reef
within the St. Lucie and Loxahatchee rivers on Florida's southeast
coast. This project is linked to the 50-year, multi-organization,
restoration effort to restore the Florida Everglades and the nearby
FWRI's role in this project will be monitoring the
oysters on the newly created reefs to help evaluate whether the
restoration effort is successful. FWRI biologists will make monthly
trips to four of the restored reefs to count the number of new
oysters arriving on the reef and assess the health of the oysters.
Once every six months, biologists will estimate the density and
size of oysters growing on the new reefs. Biologists will compare
the data collected from the restoration sites, where shell has been
added, to data from nearby natural control sites, where oysters are
not expected to be affected by the restoration activities.