Beautiful coral reefs are priceless to divers and snorkelers. The intrinsic value of dipping below the waves, leaving the stress of the topside behind, and marveling in the natural beauty of colorful fish, vibrant corals and sea fans, or exploring artificial reefs and wrecks. We know it is good for the soul but it is also good for the economy. It is standard practice to apply an economic value to natural resources and use that information to help protect it! The United States government needs your help to put a dollar amount value of the coral reefs of Florida. Many of us are willing to spend lots of money to have a great experience underwater. We buy masks and snorkels, pay charter boats to take us to the reefs, rent dive tanks, and even buy food from local shops to munch on during our surface intervals.
Here in Florida, we are lucky to have the third largest reef tract in the world just a few meters off the sandy beach. The 360 miles of Florida’s coral reefs started growing 10,000 years ago and are now home to about 150 species of corals and sponges, more than 500 fish species and several sea turtle and marine mammal species. Seasonal upwellings feed the nutrient rich waters near our coral reefs that help sustain this biodiversity. All of this is threatened by diseases, bleaching events and human impacts like land-based pollutants.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a scientific governmental agency charged with researching and managing the country’s marine resources, is conducting an economic survey of divers and snorkelers to get a better idea of the value of Florida’s reef to the state’s economy. This is a rare chance for divers and snorkelers specifically to have their voices heard as historically, coral reef economic valuation has mainly been linked to the fishing industry, both recreational and commercial.
The survey can be filled out by anyone who has been scuba diving or snorkeling in Florida in the past year. The survey is short and easy to complete on your computer or mobile device. The data and information collected in this survey will be used to inform decision-makers on how to prioritize sustainable management and research directives of Florida’s unique coral reefs.
Let your voice be heard! This is an easy and fast way to have your information and experience mean something for the conservation of Florida’s vulnerable reefs. The survey can be found by clicking:firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!