The primary project goal is to evaluate long term status and trends of common and rare coral reef types and benthic communities in Dry Tortugas National Park.
The objectives are to collect benthic data which provides a quantitative assessment of stony coral species richness density, abundance,
and spatial cover, benthic cover values for major taxonomic groups (e.g., stony corals, macroalgae, octocorals, sponges, and zoanthids) and an evaluation of stony coral and octocoral condition including the prevalence of disease and bleaching and causes of mortality.
Targeted surveys also focus on the abundance of Diadema antillarum within the park.
In addition, in situ water temperature data is collected at many sites to determine its influence on benthic community structure.
Lastly, surveys to assess the effects of diving activities on coral communities within the Research Natural Area dive sites are performed.