Marine Zone Monitoring Program
Since Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s marine zones were established in 1997, researchers have been studying the coral reefs, other habitats, and marine life inside the highly protected areas and comparing them to sites outside the zones. These research projects help determine whether the marine zones are succeeding to protect marine life and habitat within the sanctuary.
Some zone monitoring projects compare how much coral is present inside and outside a marine zone and how that level has changed over the years. Other projects look at how healthy a hardbottom community is from one site to another. Still other researchers look at reef fish, and how their size and populations might differ inside a zone or outside or how many different species are found in zone sites versus other areas.
Results from these studies and others help sanctuary managers understand how to better utilize marine zones to protect the special resources of the Florida Keys.