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efforts that can help end policies that are destroying critical lobster and reef fish habitat.
Lobster and reef fish habitat are under imminent threat as our coral reefs die. Dr. Brian Lapointe’s 30-year study on coral reef decline in the Florida Keys proves that we must stop sending water polluted with nitrogen through the Everglades on to our endangered reefs.
You can help COAST protect this critical habitat by supporting COAST’s mission to change Florida’s disastrous policies that have been killing our reefs and harming lobster and reef fish habitat for decades.
Additional Information: Dr. Brian Lapointe’s (and co-authors) paper entitled “Nitrogen enrichment, altered stoichiometry, and coral reef decline at Looe Key, Florida Keys, USA: A three-decade study” was recently published in the international journal Marine Biology. The results provide compelling evidence that the nitrogen pollution from the Florida Keys and the greater Everglades ecosystem caused by humans is the primary driver of the alarming coral reef die-off at Looe Key.
These findings refute the false assumption that warming temperatures or elevated salinity are the primary causes of recent coral reef death. Between 1991 and 1995 increased freshwater deliveries aimed to reduce salinity in Florida Bay resulted in expansive harmful cyanobacterial blooms and increased rates of coral reef die-off in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Stormwater discharges from urbanized areas of the Florida Keys and the Everglades basin (which extends north to Orlando) have very high nitrogen to phosphorus ratios (up to 260:1).
The Looe Key paper correlates the decades-long practice of sending nitrogen-laden water south with the decline of phosphorus starved corals. It is imperative that we use Dr. Lapointe’s science to end this devastating practice. Policymakers and resource managers must reduce the amount of nitrogen-laden freshwater that is being sent south through the Everglades and onto Florida’s coral reefs. The future success of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan will require action based on Dr. Lapointe’s findings related to the hydrological and nutrient linkages between the Everglades, Florida Bay and the Florida Keys. To discover how COAST’s science and recommended solutions can make all the difference for Florida’s clean water future visit: CoastEcology.Org/NitrogenTrail