Implementation of a Mooring Buoy Program at Breaker's Reef in Palm Beach County, Fl
   Erin McDevitt, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission

Abstract: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management (PBC DERM), and the Wildlife Foundation of Florida (WFF) have agreed to cooperatively partner and establish a network of mooring buoys to protect Palm Beach County's most sensitive shallow reefs. These reefs are suffering from damage caused by the deployment of boat anchors by those who use the reefs for recreational and commercial purposes. PBC DERM staff and Palm Beach County Reef Research Team (PBCRRT) divers have reported that damage to Breaker's reef from anchors is extensive. However, there are no programs in place that have quantitatively assessed the damage. This proposal seeks funding to initiate the project by establishing buoys at a near-shore reef site known locally as the "Breaker's." Breaker's reef is unique in that it represents the only area where coral reefs are extensively present in Palm Beach County at 20-30 ft depths. Because of these depths, this site experiences heavy usage by boaters, divers, and anglers. The biotic communities of this highly diverse reef are dominated by gorgonians and sponges, but stony corals are present as well as other benthic fauna and flora. Sea turtles, especially green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, also frequent shallow coral reef habitats to forage. Fifty-seven (57) species of fish and 22 species of hard corals have been identified on this reef. The Objective’s of this project will be to 1) Minimize future anchor injury to the benthic community at Breaker's Reef and allow past injuries the opportunity to recover 2) Conduct a monitoring program that will measure the success of the buoys. 3) Distribute brochures that will map the location of and describe how to properly use the mooring buoys. The expected benefits of this project are: reduced damage caused by anchors to the benthic resources on the Breaker’s Reef and recovery of previously damaged resources. It is expected that benthic cover will increase and associated species that live and forage in the benthos will also increase as a result of the recovery of damaged resources. A monitoring program will be conducted to measure the success of the buoys.

Award Matching Funds Total
$30,124.00 $30,124.00 $60,248.00

Year Funded Starting Date Ending Date
2008 7/1/2009 9/30/2013

Location: Palm Beach County