The Kristin Jacobs Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area, formerly known as the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) region, was officially established on July 1, 2018. On July 1, 2021 this area was renamed in honor of the late Broward County state representative. This conservation area, also referred to as the Coral ECA, is the northernmost section of Florida’s Coral Reef and runs 105 miles from the St. Lucie Inlet to the northern boundary of Biscayne National Park. The Coral ECA is part of the only barrier reef system in the continental United States and is home to more than 6,000 species of marine life including fish, stony corals, gorgonians, sponges, and other marine invertebrates.
Have you seen this sign? You can find one at your local marina, boat ramp, state park or pier in the four counties next to the Coral ECA.
Coral Reef Facts
Are corals plants, rocks, or animals? Corals may look like rocks or plants, but they are actually animals, closely related to jellyfish and anemones.
How fast do reefs grow? Reef growth is extremely slow; an individual coral colony may grow only ½ inch to 7 inches (1 cm to 18 cm) in one year, depending on the species. Check out this paper by Weil et al. 2020 that discusses growth dynamics in Acropora cervicornis and A. prolifera in southwest Puerto Rico.
How do coral reefs support South Florida's economy? The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a status report for Florida’s Coral Reef detailing that coral reefs in Southeast Florida generate $5.7 billion in local sales and support 61,000 jobs every year.
Do coral reefs safeguard against extreme weather, shoreline erosion and coastal flooding? Yes! As reported by Storlazzi et al. 2019, reefs in the Coral ECA provide more than $323 million in flood protection benefits to buildings and protect over $276 million in economic activity each year.
Protecting Our Reefs
Along with state and federal partners, the DEP Coral Reef Conservation Program is responsible for managing the Coral ECA by balancing conservation with commercial and recreational use.
Friends of Our Florida Reefs is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving and protecting coral reefs within the Coral ECA by enhancing and complementing critical efforts, programs, and activities of DEP’s Coral Reef Conservation Program.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.