Pollution can smother coral reefs, lower water quality, and make corals more susceptible to disease

aerial view of polluted runoff

Coral reefs need clean, clear water to survive. When sediment and other pollutants enter the water, they smother coral reefs, speed the growth of damaging algae, and lower water quality. Pollution can also make corals more susceptible to disease, impede coral growth and reproduction, and cause changes in food structures on the reef.

In the Florida Keys, our expansive watershed includes all of the rivers and streams that drain into Florida Bay, the Southwest Florida Shelf, the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Straits, and the Atlantic Ocean. This means that pollutants from as far away as the Mississippi Basin, or as close as your own backyard, can be entering the system. Thankfully, there are simple things that you can do to reduce the amount of pollution that eventually make it to Florida Keys waters.


Did You Know?

The Mississippi River originates as a tiny outlet stream from Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota. During a meandering 2,350-mile journey south to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River is joined by hundreds of tributaries, including the Ohio and Missouri Rivers.