October 1, 2009

Protection sought for Fla. coral discovery

A conservation group said Thursday discovery of a type of coral off the shore of the town of Palm Beach, Fla. indicates it deserves protected habitat status.

Palm Beach County Reef Rescue Director Ed Tichenor said the find may be the largest amount of Staghorn coral in Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach Post reported.

This discovery is significant since the Town of Palm Beach is opposing federal critical habitat protection for this coral, said Connie Gasque, of Palm Beach who lead a dive group looking for Staghorn coral.

As late as Aug. 26, Town of Palm Beach officials wrote to National Marine Fisheries Service saying that it opposed including the town's coral population in a protected critical habitat designation because Staghorn corals are rarely found north of the Boynton Beach Inlet.

We found the mother lode (of the Staghorn coral), said Gasque.