The Florida Keys BleachWatch program is designed to train and coordinate volunteers who regularly report on the occurrence, or absence, of coral bleaching, as well as basic environmental conditions from various reef sites throughout the Florida Keys. This rapidly reported observational data is then synthesized with existing NOAA remote sensing and environmental monitoring data to provide the scientists and resource managers with a summary of actual “current conditions” on the reef throughout the summer months. This information will allow researchers to further develop the accuracy of available coral bleaching predictions and assist resource managers to better communicate the condition of the reefs as potential bleaching events occur, as well as integrating the information into existing management plans.

Participating Divers: Skip to Training & Reports Below


Coral Bleaching

Coral bleaching. Credit: Mote Marine Laboratory
A brain coral in the process of bleaching

Coral bleaching is the corals’ loss of their symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae), which give them their color. Bleaching is a natural event that occurs to some extent annually in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). Records show that coral bleaching has been occurring for many years in the Florida Keys and also indicate that the frequency and severity of these events has steadily increased since the 1980s. Large-scale mass coral bleaching events are driven by unusually warm sea temperatures and calm seas. The effects of these mass events are potentially devastating to ecosystems and the people who depend on them.

The initial onset of mass coral bleaching can vary among different species, geographic locations, types of reef zones and a fluctuation of severity, which makes it very difficult to predict where or when it will occur.

BleachWatch Mission

The Florida Keys BleachWatch Program, modeled after Great Barrier Reef’s BleachWatch, is a team of trained recreational, commercial and scientific divers who help monitor and report on conditions at the reefs. Divers are provided an underwater wristband to use as a reference and a reminder key below and above the water.

After each visit to the reef, the divers submit a report to the BleachWatch Coordinator.

Due to Florida reefs and portions of the Caribbean reefs experiencing an outbreak of stony coral tissue loss disease, BleachWatch observers are also encouraged to also collect data on disease and no disease at their sites.  These observations will help researchers try to understand the range, progression, and species affected.  Please visit The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary for more information.

Participating Divers

Thank you for helping us monitor and report conditions on Florida’s Coral Reef! Below are links to submit reports and access training and other resources. For questions, please contact us at: bleachwatch@mote.org

In-person training

June 10, 2024 – Islamorada
6:00 p.m.
at the Keys History & Discovery Center
82100 Overseas Highway, Islamorada
Click Here to Register for the Islamorada BleachWatch Training

June 11, 2024 – Key West
6:00 p.m.
at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
35 Quay Road, Key West
Click Here to Register for the Key West BleachWatch Training

June 12, 2024 – Marathon
6:00 p.m.
at Marathon City Hall
9805 Overseas Highway,  Marathon
Click Here to Register for the Marathon BleachWatch Training

June 13, 2024 – Summerland Key
6:00 p.m.
at Mote’s International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration
24244 Overseas Highway,  Summerland Key
Click Here to Register for the Summerland Key BleachWatch Training

June 15, 2024 – Key Largo
10 a.m.
at Reefhouse Resort Conference Center
103800 Overseas Highway, Key Largo
Click Here to Register for the Key Largo BleachWatch Training

Online Training

BLEACHWATCH ONLINE TRAINING

Other Resources

 

 

Current Conditions

Information from NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch (CRW) remote sensing and Integrated Coral Observing Network (ICON) in-situ environmental monitoring analysis are combined with “BleachWatch” volunteer observations in the field to provide a comprehensive overview of “current conditions” throughout the FKNMS. These reports will be generated according to the current conditions and the potential risk for coral bleaching and are listed below:

LATEST REPORT: NOVEMBER 2, 2023: LOW

Screenshot of a BleachWatch Report from November 2023. Click to download full report.

Past Condition Reports

See Previous Reports from 2005–Present

For more information about BleachWatch or the current conditions reports, please contact the BleachWatch Coordinator at bleachwatch@mote.org.  For coral bleaching reports in the Southeast Florida Region, please report to SEAFAN.