unnamed-7Cole K., SCUBAnaut Senior 1st Class was both humbled and honored to present a summary of his coral research project at the 2015 American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) symposium held in Key West.   The AAUS symposium is held annually to bring underwater researchers together to present their project results, discuss the latest in diving technology, and dive safety standards. Science presentations took place at the San Carlos Institute and various dive training workshops were held at the Beachside Mariott.

Over the past five years Cole has been conducting research on the primary branching coral of Florida’s Nature Coast, called Robust Ivory coral (Oculina robusta). Cole chose this coral to study because there was so little information available about this coral, especially about its longevity and population trends. In May 2015 he submitted his research abstract to the AAUS symposium scientist for review and was thrilled to have it accepted for inclusion in conference proceedings.  Cole’s presented his findings on

  1.  The habitat importance Oculina robusta,
  2.  Differences in health of the coral at mid-shore (12 miles) and offshore sites (25 miles),
  3.  Trends in health, and
  4.  Growth rates

The growth rate information is very helpful as it can be applied to estimate the age of colonies throughout the region. Two of the largest colonies he found are estimated to be 80 and 150 years old. Cole plans to expand the project this year by training other Nauts how to collect the data and working as teams increase the number of sites and colonies.