Elkhorn coral on a USGS calcification assessment station, Dry Tortugas
Established in 2009, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Coral Assessment Network (USGS-CAN) provides data on coral-growth (calcification) rates throughout the Florida Keys. Pictured here is one of 30 stations located in in Dry Tortugas National Park. The data document seasonal and spatial patterns in coral growth that correlate with ocean conditions and are used to guide the management and restoration of coral species that have experienced population declines across the region. Shown here is the threatened Elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, that is largely responsible in the western Atlantic for creating the reef-crest habitat, the shallowest zone of the reef where waves break, that is essential for shoreline protection.