BELOW THE WATER: CORAL REEFS
Visitors to the Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea often see scuba divers entering the water to make a beach dive. What the visitors may not know – but what the divers do – is that the Town has a living coral reef within 100 yards of its shoreline. The reef is so close to the beach, it is even accessible to snorkelers. Commonly referred to as the “first reef,” this underwater habitat is home to:
- Tropical fish
- Protected corals
- Rust-colored barrel sponges
- Sea fans
- Spiny lobster
The most biologically-diverse marine eco-systems on earth, reefs are rivalled only by the tropical rainforests on land. Coral reefs occupy less than one quarter of 1 percent of the planet’s marine environment, but are home to more than 25 percent of all fish species.
Protecting Coral Reefs
Corals started growing on earth an estimated 200 million years ago. In addition to their natural beauty, coral reefs play a vital role in South Florida’s tourism economy. Reefs also help protect shorelines from erosion and storm damage.
To learn what you can do to protect Florida’s reefs, visit the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative website.