Thousands of healthy corals have been relocated as dredging project continues around the port of Miami. By displacing the corals, scientists are trying to save the corals for getting damaged further due to the dredging. The dredging is expected to finish in July 2015.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says a project to deepen two channels approaching the port is about 35 percent complete. This project aims to deepen two channels towards the Miami port and expanding the port to fit bigger ships passing through the Panama Canal.
Divers have been collecting the corals from the edges of the channel and relocating them to the artificial reef and other nearby areas. So far the divers have been successful in relocating a thousand of the healthy corals. The University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science is also collecting coral fragments.
Corps officials are happy with the health and expansion of a transplanted corals. However, according to coral biologist and University of Miami professor Andrew Baker the 12 days remaining for the relocation of the corals are not enough for them to retrieve all. Scientists say that these corals found the Miami port are of critical importance as they hold vital clues about how the oceanic creatures adapt to warmer oceans brought about by climate change.
Corps officials say about 10 acres of artificial reefs are being constructed from dredged material. Some specific coral, found at the Port of Miami are around 40-years-old, have adapted to climate change and even to man-made changes. These coral reefs also serve as a natural barrier for potential tsunamis and threatening waves.
In South Florida itself, coral reefs make for around 6 million dollars as far as their contribution to the local economy is concerned. With about a 1,000 delicate corals relocated, coral officers have said that they are encouraged by the growth of relocated corals. Much larger colonies of corals have been found along the busy shipping channel and could be of great importance in aiding the sustenance of coral reefs of South Florida. It seems that the second sweep of the channel for the collection of smaller corals for scientific and educational purpose, which appeared to have a slim chance, has been worthwhile.