HUMAN IMPACTS ON CORAL REEFS IN SOUTH FLORIDA
In southeast Florida, colleagues and I are using aerial surveys to determine human use patterns (i.e. vessels) on coral reefs and in-water studies to determine whether the use patterns we describe correspond to reef damage patterns. We use helicopter surveys with laser rangefinder integrated GPS technology to identify vessel positions, vessel characteristics, and vessel activities. These data are then incorporated into a GIS framework with existing benthic habitat maps to spatially analyze patterns of use. Following these vessel use studies we began to focus on whether the patterns of use (e.g., anchoring) correspond with reef damage and if management such as mooring buoy installation can change the patterns and damage. Florida resource managers (e.g., FDEP and FWC) can use the outcomes of these studies in their management plan for coral reefs in southeast Florida.