After a lengthy delay brought on by the recent government shutdown, FORCE BLUE returned to the Florida Keys in early February and resumed its fight to help interdict the spread of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease along the critically threatened Florida Coral Reef Tract.
Working alongside Dr. Karen Neely and her Nova Southeastern University team aboard boats provided by Captain Hook’s Marina and Dive Center, FORCE BLUE divers treated over 300 lesions on close to 60 coral heads along Sombrero Reef. Added to the work done on Molasses and Carysfort Reefs prior to the shutdown, FORCE BLUE has to-date treated almost 700 lesions on 130+ infected corals.
On days when the weather has not cooperated and dive operations have been suspended, FORCE BLUE team members have pitched in where needed with our partners at Keys Marine Lab and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to, among other things, create “holding homes” for some of the large Pilar corals that have been rescued and to create new pieces of coral substrate that will be used to out plant baby corals in the near future.
While circumstances beyond our control have thrown us few unexpected hurdles, FORCE BLUE is nonetheless powering its way through a very successful first month of PROJECT PROTECT.