Coral Reef in Palm Beach County

Coral Reef Ambassador Initiative

Become a Coral Champion

Palm Beach County's coastal waters are scattered with natural coral formations that are part of the Florida Reef Tract, the only living barrier coral reef in the continental United States and third largest in the world.

Follow these tips to help keep our beautiful reefs vibrant and diverse. 

Reef Conservation tips for boaters

  • Absolutely never drop an anchor on the reef. This is illegal under Florida's Coral Reef Protection Act (CRPA) and could be associated with heavy fines. Find a nice sandy bottom, drop your anchor, and float out back across the reef. If you are having trouble locating sandy bottom, check out our this free mobile app.  Free public mooring buoys can be found all over Palm Beach County by using the same app.
Reef Finder App Image
  • Boats can carry disease and potentially harmful exotic species. Wash your boat as thoroughly as possible after use, including the bilge, before moving from one area to the next.
  • Fuel up and add oil in calm areas to avoid spills. Avoid overflowing your fuel tanks and oil receptacles.
  • Keep a sharp eye out for manatees and sunning sea turtles!

Reef Conservation tips for diving and snorkeling

  • Avoid sunscreens with Oxybenzone and Avobenzone. The -benzones are compounds that are lethal to coral reproduction in very small amounts. Many common sunscreens contain between 1-10% Oxybenzone or Avobenzone, so please check the ingredients list.
    • Note: If you cannot find any sunscreen without Oxybenzone or Avobenzone, you should still wear sunscreen to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
  • To prevent the spread of coral disease, it is recommended that you clean your gear when moving between dive sites. While on board your vessel, disinfect your gear in a water bath rinse, using any non-ionic detergent or soap. Once returning to shore, use a diluted bleach wash to quickly and effectively remove any disease trace. Please note that this disease poses no threat to human health, the cleaning of dive gear serves only to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • Buoyancy is key. Practice floating off the bottom in a shallow area first, and determine your exact weighting needs. With the correct buoyancy, you can avoid sinking and damaging reef habitat.
  • Clip your alternate second stage regulator (octopus) to your Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) to prevent it from dragging across the reef.
  • No matter what, never touch corals.  Corals grow slowly and are fragile – they are easily damaged and take a long time to recover. Many divers think gloves give them free reign to touch everything – gloves do not protect coral.

Reef Conservation tips for fishing

  • Use circle hooks whenever possible, as fish have a hard time swallowing them. More released fish that survive, means more fish later!
  • When bottom fishing, use braided line and a leader lighter than the breaking strength of the braid. In this way, you can leave minimal amounts of line on the reef if you are snagged.
  • Only take what you need, rather than what you're allowed. More fish in the water leads to more successful reproduction, which in turns means more sustainable fishing for the future.

If you don't boat, fish or dive, you can still be a Coral Champion!

  • Participate in any and all beach cleanups that you can attend.
  • Recycle as much as possible, and deposit trash into receptacles for proper disposal. Millions of tons of trash ends up in the ocean that would otherwise be properly disposed of.
  • Conserve water! Water purification takes a lot of energy, and it is always good to conserve energy.
  • Shut out the lights when you leave the house and turn your AC to a higher temperature to conserve even more energy. This is just as good for your electric bill as it is for your reefs.

 For more information on our natural and artificial reefs visit Palm Beach County's Environmental Resource Management Department.

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