Bleach Watch Training Program
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
(305)809-4700 ext. 236
Islamorada Public Library
Mile Marker 81.5
P.O. Box 1129
Islamorada, FL 33036
Date and Time
Summer is here and the water is growing warmer. With rising water temperatures and calm seas comes
increased chance of mass coral bleaching. Members of the public are invited to attend trainings on Key
West and Islamorada to become "Bleach Watch" volunteer observers and do their part to help monitor the
"Divers, snorkelers and boaters not only use and enjoy the Sanctuary waters, but can also act as stewards
to further its protection. Through programs like BleachWatch, members of the public become an extended
network of observers better enabling the Sanctuary and its partners to respond to issues such as coral
bleaching," says Sanctuary Superintendent Dave Score.
Bleach Watch is a volunteer program funded by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and managed by
Mote Marine Laboratory, whereby divers, snorkelers and water enthusiasts can be "eyes on the water"
helping with early detection of coral bleaching. Volunteer observations can be submitted via email or web
forms and the information aids researchers in rapid detection, assessment and response to bleaching.
"The weekly reports collected from the BleachWatch observers not only assist in early detection, but also
help determine where and when bleaching is occurring, what species are more vulnerable, the duration of
an event, and recovery and resilience potential," says BleachWatch coordinator and Mote Staff Biologist,
Bleaching is a stress response that results when the coral-algae relationship breaks down. Coral bleaching
can be caused by a wide range of environmental stressors such as pollution, oil spills, increased sedimentation,
extremes in sea temperatures, extremes in salinity, low oxygen, disease, and predation. The corals are still
alive after bleaching and do not necessarily always die. If the environmental conditions return to normal rather
quickly, the corals can regain or regrow their zooxanthellae and survive. If the stressors are prolonged, the
corals are more susceptible to disease, predation, and death because they are without an important energy source.
BleachWatch trainings are being held at the Key West
Eco-Discovery Center on July 1 from 7-8pm and at the Islamorada
public library on July 8 from 7-8pm. If you are interested in
becoming a volunteer observer or want to know more about coral
bleaching, please attend a training.