Finally some good news after almost thirty years of die-offs of the Elkhorn coral population in Key West! After almost 95 percent of the Elkhorn coral was obliterated by hurricanes and disease, we now have evidence that things are looking brighter. One clue is the large specimen spotted just a few miles offshore from Key West.
Online PR News – 23-September-2009 – – KEY WEST, FL - In a much-welcomed new direction for the health of coral reefs in Key West and the Florida Keys, there's finally a sign of hope. One lone island of Elkhorn Coral stands proudly anchored to the ocean's floor, just a few miles south of Key West. It's a welcome sign, since this species, (acropora palmata) has been slowly disappearing from Keys waters and the Caribbean in general, for almost thirty years now.
Finding this beauty of a colony, plus the latest great news released this year that farm-raised Elkhorn coral was spawning and growing, is among the first in good news for the battered coral reefs in this area. Hurricanes and disease, some brought on by humans, have devestated Elkhorn and Staghorn colonies for decades.
Some of the bacteria that has been killing off the Elkhorn coral off Key West is bacteria that's found in the intestines of humans and animals. Until recently, Key West's plans for waste treatment of sewage have consisted of septic fields. That means, waste is simply released underground with hopes that it gets absorbed into the ground before it hits the ocean or Gulf. Not even a septic tank...just a field.
"Key West is working on a more up to date sewer system. Hopefully it's not too late." says Mandy Rothko, head of a citizen's watch group based in Key West. His group keeps a close eye on reef conditions, public utility policies, and of course waste treatment in Key West. "There's been a lot of resistance from locals who don't want to pay for a sewer system, or for hooking up to one once it's built" says Mr. Rothko. "But if they understood what's happening to the coral reef right offshore, they'd be more willing".
Key West snorkeling excursions can help by raising awareness. We here at Key West Vacation Guide hope that by posting pictures, facts, and updates on this issue will aid in the comeback of the beautiful Elkhorn coral.
Learn about the coral reef in Key West FL, including Elkhorn coral, at www.keywestvacationguide.com.