NOAA Warns of "Rapid Deterioration" of Endangered Corals Due to Deep Dredge Sludge

Categories: Environmental

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Courtesy of FDEP
Coral killed by sediment from the Deep Dredge
A month ago, state regulators raised the alarm over silt from the Deep Dredge killing Miami corals. Now the feds are stepping in as well.

According to documents obtained by New Times, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued a scathing set of recommendations for saving endangered coral threatened by the dredge project.

"There is clearly sediment impact affecting coral colonies, including [endangered species] Acropora cervicornis and possibly newly-listed corals, in the project area," the report says. "There is also evidence of additional background warm temperature stress in the region. Both these factors are contributing to rapid deterioration in colony condition in the project area."

See also: Deep Dredge Silt Is Killing Our Coral After All, Admit State Inspectors

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City of Miami Might Ban Stores From Selling Puppies

Categories: Environmental

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Photo: Ellie via WikiCommons | CC2.0
The city of Miami is looking into the idea of banning the sale of puppies. It's not that the city commission doesn't like puppies and wants to make the city some sort of dystopian puppy-free police state. They like puppies a lot. In fact, that's why they're toying with the idea of banning stores from selling puppies.

Many pet stores are known to get their puppies from dog mills, where the conditions for dogs can be notoriously bad.

See also: Miami-Dade County Commission Wants To Crack Down on Puppy Mills

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Two Flower Species at Controversial Walmart Site Are Now Endangered

Categories: Environmental

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Photo via ramrealestate.com
A projection of Coral Reef Commons, the development project
In July the news broke that the University of Miami had sold an 88-acre plot of land, near Zoo Miami, to a West Palm Beach developer who planned to build a Walmart. Environmentalists were devastated: The land is comprised of rare pine rockland forest, a savanna-like habitat found only in South Florida, the Bahamas, and Cuba.

After the announcement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that a butterfly found only in the habitat, the Bartram's scrub-hairstreak, would officially be listed as endangered. Yesterday the USFWS announced two more species found only in the pine rocklands would also get that designation: The Carter's small-flowered flax and the Florida brickellbush.

See also: Butterflies Living on Land Sold to Walmart Developer Are Now Officially Endangered

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Deep Dredge Critics Use Drones, Planes, and Satellites to Show Damage to Biscayne Bay

Categories: Environmental

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Courtesy of Capt. Dan Kipnis
What the Deep Dredge looked like from Capt. Dan Kipnis's chartered sea plane
Two years ago, environmentalists desperately tried to derail the Deep Dredge. They claimed the $2 billion plan to deepen the Port of Miami would kill wildlife in Biscayne Bay, so they sued to stop it. But when a bevy of state agencies lined up against them -- threatening dredge opponents with outrageous legal fees -- the environmentalists were forced to cut a deal and walk away. The dredge went ahead.

For a year and a half, these environmentalists focused on other issues. But when fleets of ships finally began scraping the bottom of the bay in December, activists went on alert. Like superheroes called out of their secret lairs, some have gone to incredible lengths to document the damage the dredge is doing.

"There is something rotten going on here," says Dan Kipnis, a retired Biscayne Bay boat captain. "Something really rotten."

See also: Colin Foord Braves Bad Weather and Giant Eels to Save Sea Creatures From Deep Dredge

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Everglades' Latest Threat: Tiny, Fungus-Spreading Asian Beetles

Categories: Environmental

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The beetle in comparison to a dime.
Invasive pythons have been getting all the credit, but there's another invasive species wrecking havoc in the Everglades that could end up causing more damage.

It's the red bay ambrosia beetle, a particularly small species native to Asia that first came to the U.S. in 2002, likely through the importation of wood products. Though, the bug has an accomplice in destroying the Glades: laurel wilt, a fungus it spreads that has proven deadly to thousands of trees in the fragile river of grass.

See also: Move Over Pythons, Invasive Meat-Eating Lizards Are the Everglades' New Pest

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Katharine the Great White Shark Was Back Off Miami Beach Last Week

Categories: Environmental

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Photo: sharkdiver.com via Wikimedia Commons | CC2.0
Katharine, a 14-foot great white shark that has spent the past several months off the coast of Florida, was back in South Florida last week.

Katharine was tagged last August by marine biologists off Cape Cod, and they've been tracking her ever since. Earlier this year she headed down south and spent a weekend in March off the coast of Miami Beach.

See also: A 14-Foot Great White Shark Named Katharine Spent the Weekend Circling Miami Beach

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Local Amateur Historians Discover Long-Lost Everglades Fort

Categories: Environmental

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Photo courtesy of a U.S. Geological Survey via Wikimedia Commons
The site had been lost to researchers for nearly a century. Tony Pernas had been looking for a decade. His team had logged nearly 100 search hours just this year.

But last Monday, deep in the Everglades, miles from any sign of people, Pernas and two other amateur historians found it: the exact location of Fort Harrell, a long-lost Army encampment used by U.S. forces during the second Seminole War. "We're really excited," Pernas tells New Times.

"It was a good moment, just realizing that we had found a piece of Big Cypress history."

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Manatees May Be Taken Off Endangered Species List

Categories: Environmental

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Photo: US Fish and Wildlife's Flickr
Ask any Floridians a Family Feud-style query of "Name things we should protect," and they'll instinctually shout back at you "Manatees." Along with Florida panthers, those plump little sea cows are practically synonymous with endangered species in the state. We're brought up from a young age with a general sense that they need to be saved.

Well, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service isn't so sure they should be considered endangered species anymore, and has taken the first step towards reclassifying them as merely threatened. The move was spurred by a petition and lawsuit from the Pacific Legal Foundation, a pro-business law firm with a particular interest in deregulating environmental laws that they feel infringe on people's property rights. It's the same law firm that successfully fought to have the Bald Eagle removed from the endangered species list.

See also: Floridians Warned Not to Interrupt Big Manatee Orgies

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Miami Beach Is Banning Styrofoam

Categories: Environmental

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Photo via Wonderlane's Flickr | CC2.0
Miami Beach would like to be known less for odd chemicals in its residents' bodies and more for banning littering its streets, parks, and beaches with things made from odd chemicals. Following bans on plastic straws and Styrofoam containers on the beach, the city commission seems set to extend the ban of Styrofoam to all city-owned property. That includes restaurants that serve patrons on the sidewalks.

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A Wildfire Is Smothering Miami-Dade With Smoke This Morning

Categories: Environmental

photo via @beingkyla's Twitter
Take your gas masks downtown today.
Don't worry: It's just not the raging hangover from those seven rum and Cokes you pounded while sweating through the Heat's win last night. Your eyes are not fogged over with Monday-morning regret. Miami really has disappeared under a cloud of noxious smoke.

A huge wildfire in Broward County is to blame for the smoke, which is serious enough that the National Weather Service is warning anyone with breathing problems to stay inside this morning, providing Miami's asthma sufferers the perfect excuse to skip work and sleep off that NBA Finals headache.

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