Monday, July 15, 2024

US Government Designates ‘Critical Habitats’ For Endangered Coral Species


The National Marine Fisheries Service  has announced it has designated certain areas along the US coast as a “critical habitat” for five threatened Caribbean coral species.

In a notice posted this week, NMFS said:

“Twenty-eight mostly overlapping specific occupied areas containing physical features essential to the conservation of these coral species are designated as critical habitat.”

These areas contain approximately 16,830 square kilometers (6,500 square miles) of marine habitat, according to NMFS. They include the species’ ranges in Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Navassa Island and the Flower Gardens Banks.

“We have considered economic, national security, and other relevant impacts of designating these areas as critical habitat, and we exclude one area from the designations due to anticipated impacts on national security.”

The corals in question include:

  • Caribbean boulder star coral (Orbicella franksi);
  • Lobed star coral (O. annularis);
  • Mountainous star coral (O. faveolata);
  • Pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus); and
  • Rough cactus coral (Mycetophyllia ferox).

The new rule becomes effective September 8th, 2023.

Check out the full notice here.

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.