Miami’s Native Corals in Danger

By Natalia Arias, DIG Program Manager

On June 30th DIG staff attended ECOMB’s Cinema Green screening of Coral City – a documentary starring Colin Foord and Jared McKay, the marine biology/art duo behind Coral Morphologic. The film is both entertaining and educational. Colin and Jared possess a unique talent for making fascinating artwork with coral reefs, while enlightening viewers about the threats that Miami’s coral reefs face and the damage that has been caused.

These artists and activists study, revive, defend, document, catalog, and preserve the city’s native corals. They have helped put a stop to projects such as David Beckham’s soccer stadium – which planned to fill in the cut of water between Museum Park and the American Airlines arena. Foord went snorkeling and found an ecosystem of what he calls “urban corals”, a strange breed of the species that has managed to grow there despite the trash and debris that in part is due to the Port of Miami dredge.

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Jared McKay, Co-founder of Coral Morphologic, cleaning and maintaining one of the lab’s sea anemone displays

The Port of Miami dredge intends to expand a shipping channel to make room for supersized ships. Dredging has killed a large numbers of corals in part because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed at counting the number of coral colonies in the area. Sediment stirred up by the dredging has suffocated many corals.

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Colin Foord documenting his subject’s slow movements through time-lapse video

In spite of all the mistakes made during the Port of Miami dredging, Port Everglades, which is even richer in coral than Miami, is planning to undertake the same project. Other factors that affect coral reefs include pollution, acidification and overfishing. In certain areas of South Florida, 90 percent of the coral is gone.

 

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