Florida Lawmakers Unite in Push to Preempt Coral Reef Emergency

Florida Lawmakers Unite in Push to Preempt Coral Reef Emergency

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
June 26, 2024

A bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers is urging the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to adequately prepare for a potential emergency in Florida’s coral reefs.

Coral reefs have recently suffered the consequences of historic heat levels, which often lead to coral ‘bleaching’, a term describing the white color corals turn after dying.

According to NOAA, ocean temperatures reached as much as 101 degrees, far above the optimal range of 73 to 84 degrees that corals flourish in.

Led by US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL), the legislators sent a letter to NOAA Administrator Richard Spinrad on the matter.

The letter requests Administrator Spinrad implement Senator Rubio’s Restoring Resilient Reefs Act, which passed in December 2022 and expands NOAA’s resources for preserving coral health.

“Florida’s coral barrier reef is an irreplaceable resource which must be preserved and protected,” reads the letter. “We ask that you be prepared to use the resources and authorities available to you

should exigent circumstances arise.”

Specifically, Rubio’s act authorizes NOAA to mobilize federal resources and private donations to respond to exigent crises in the health of American coral reefs.

Given the warm temperatures of recent summers, it is likely a coral reef crisis could arise.

In a recent NOAA blog post from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, it was claimed a La Niña effect would probably occur by late summer.

La Niña and El Niño are alternating extreme weather patterns that cause much colder and warmer temperatures than usual.

If La Niña does occur, higher than average temperatures could remain over the Atlantic even throughout late summer and fall and increase the likelihood of a more active hurricane season.


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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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