Divers survey Hurricane Ian’s impact on coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico - 96.9 WINK FM

Divers survey Hurricane Ian’s impact on coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico


Hurricane Ian left scenes of destruction on land all across Southwest Florida, but what about our delicate ecosystems below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico? Divers went into the deep to examine Ian’s impact on our coral reefs.

“One of the largest barrier reefs in the Gulf of Mexico is right here in our backyard, in about 15 feet of water, depending on the tide,” said Capt. Mark Garcy, global president of CruiseFishDive.

200 yards offshore, the reef extends 10 miles from Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park to the Naples Pier. Garcy has been taking people out to the reefs for over 20 years.

Coral reef in the Gulf of Mexico. (Credit: WINK News)

“There’s beautiful coral down there,” Garcy said. “People don’t realize we have soft corals and sponges, anemones, all types of stuff right under this belt right here.”

But what about after Ian? Long-time divers Ted McCarron and Elena Romantsova took the plunge to find out. They found signs of a healthy reef, with a lot of fish and what appears to be new coral.

Divers studying coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. (Credit: WINK News)

“They’re the lungs, the lifeblood, they’re the importance of everything under the water and on land,” McCarron said.

“If you will look to Mother Nature and on Earth, we are all connected,” Romantsova said. “I mean, all the animals… doesn’t matter under the water, on the land, we’re all connected, and who destroy one piece of the puzzle, all the puzzle is destroyed.”

While this spot looks good, Garcy knows it’s not a reflection of the entire system, and there’s work to be done. He’s organizing reef surveys and cleanups.

“Go down, take video, get pictures; if you spot anything big—any big debris, cars, any large objects, that you’re not trained to remove—tag it with a line, set up a safety sausage or an airbag,” Garcy said. “If we don’t go down there and do our part, there’s gonna be nothing left for our kids’ futures.”


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