reef2 Florida Keys reefs have diminished by 50 to 80 percent in the past 10 years, researcher says “For the Florida Keys’ reefs, overall, the live coral cover has diminished by 50 to 80 percent in the past 10 years,” says Margaret Miller, a coral reef researcher at the National marine Fisheries Service. According to Miller, the destruction is the result of several contributing factors, such as pollution, climate change, over-fishing, and coastal developments.

“Corals are very susceptible to warming temperatures, because their lethal temperature [temperature at which they die] and their happy, normal temperature are very close, only separated by a couple of degrees,” Miller explains.

The reef building corals are not the only creatures in trouble in Florida; the situation looks dire for many reef associated species as well.

University of Miami marine professor Jerry Ault has studied marine life in the region for more than a decade.
“The research has discovered that about 70 percent of all the snapper and grouper in the Florida keys reef system are at population levels below those considered to be sustainable,” he said. “Everybody loves Florida because of the marine environment. Folks come here to fish and to dive and to take advantage of it, but we are loving it to death.”