An environmental assessment of the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Key Largo Coral Reef Marine Sanctuary (Unpublished 1983 Report)

Voss, Gilbert L. and Voss, Nancy A. and Cantillo, Andriana Y. and Bello, Maria J. (2002) An environmental assessment of the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Key Largo Coral Reef Marine Sanctuary (Unpublished 1983 Report). Silver Spring, MD, NOAA/National Ocean Service/National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, (NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS CCMA, 161)

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The Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was established in 1960 and the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary in 1975. Field studies, funded by NOAA, were conducted in 1980 - 1981 to determine the state of the coral reefs and surrounding areas in relation to changing environmental conditions and resource management that had occurred over the intervening years. Ten reef sites within the Sanctuary and seven shallow grass and hardbottom sites within the Park were chosen for qualitative and quantitative studies. At each site, three parallel transects not less than 400 m long were run perpendicular to the reef or shore, each 300 m apart. Observations, data collecting and sampling were done by two teams of divers. Approximately 75 percent of the bottom within the 18-m isobath was covered by marine grasses, predominantly turtle grass. The general health of the seagrasses appeared good but a few areas showed signs of stress. The inner hardbottom of the Park was studied at the two entrances to Largo Sound. Though at the time of the study the North Channel hardbottom was subjected to only moderate boat traffic, marked changes had taken place over the past years, the most obvious of which was the loss of the extensive beds of Sargassum weed, one of the most extensive beds of this alga in the Keys. Only at this site was the green alga Enteromorpha encountered. This alga, often considered a pollution indicator, may denote the effects of shore run off. The hardbottom at South Channel and the surrounding grass beds showed signs of stress. This area bears the heaviest boat traffic within the Park waters causing continuous turbidity from boat wakes with resulting siltation. The offshore hardbottom and rubble areas in the Sanctuary appeared to be in good health and showed no visible indications of deterioration. Damage by boat groundings and anchors was negligible in the areas surveyed. The outer reefs in general appear to be healthy. Corals have a surprising resiliency to detrimental factors and, when conditions again become favorable, recover quickly from even severe damage. It is, therefore, a cause for concern that Grecian Rocks, which sits somewhat inshore of the outer reef line, has yet to recover from die-off in 1978. The slow recovery, if occurring, may be due to the lower quality of the inshore waters. The patch reefs, more adapted to inshore waters, do not show obvious stress signs, at least those surveyed in this study. It is apparent that water quality was changing in the keys. Water clarity over much of the reef tract was observed to be much reduced from former years and undoubtedly plays an important part in the stresses seen today over the Sanctuary and Park. (PDF contains 119 pages)

Item Type: Monograph or Serial Issue
Title: An environmental assessment of the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Key Largo Coral Reef Marine Sanctuary (Unpublished 1983 Report)
Personal Creator/Author:
Voss, Gilbert L.
Voss, Nancy A.
Cantillo, Andriana Y.
Bello, Maria J.
Series Name: NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS CCMA
Number: 161
Date: 2002
Publisher: NOAA/National Ocean Service/National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science
Place of Publication: Silver Spring, MD
Issuing Agency: United States National Ocean Service
Additional Information: Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment; University of Miami RSMAS TR 2002-03; NOAA LISD Current References 2002-6
Subjects: Ecology
Item ID: 2175
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 28 May 2009 21:30
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2011 19:37

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