Category Archives: Projects

Benthic Resources and Seawall Assessment

Pinnacle conducted a benthic assessment and seawall survey in Miami-Dade County, FL in May of 2016. Conducted in situ identifications of marine resources, delineated, mapped and quantified corals and other marine resources in support of planning and environmental permit requirements. A total of 536 coral colonies (328 scleractinians and 208 octocorals) were mapped and identified during the benthic and encrusting organisms surveys.

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Impact Assessment Survey

Pinnacle conducted an Impact Assessment Survey in the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. A vessel grounding occurred during late September 2015 when a boat underestimated water depth over seagrass beds. Pinnacle was contracted to determine the impact of the vessel grounding to the surrounding marine resources and seagrass habitat. The parallel scar created by two outboard engines was found to be over 200 feet long and in most sections over a foot wide. Pinnacle’s marine biologists carefully delineated the propeller scar and developed a detailed plan for mitigation and restoration.

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Benthic Assessment and Seagrass Survey

This assessment survey was conducted from June to July 2015 to support permit requirements with the instillation of a rock revetment and floating dock at a marina in Miami-Dade County, FL. The purpose of the pre-construction survey was to identify marine resources that may be impacted during construction related activities and to identify and delineate resources for avoidance and potential relocation. Data analysis included mapping of marine resources including hard corals, soft corals, and seagrasses, and determining seagrass density and percent cover.

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Coral Relocation and Seagrass Restoration – Dredge Project

Pinnacle’s staff was afforded the responsibility of providing environmental oversight, quality control and quality assurance for a dredge project in Miami-Dade, Florida. Pinnacle’s scientific dive team worked with a network of marine environmental contractors. Field activities occurred from 2011 to 2015. Permanent monitoring stations were established in different habitats occurring along the ship channel. Habitats were delineated and mapped using DGPS and identified as essential fish habitat (EFH) and/or resources of particular concern. The dredge project included the restoration of more than 16 acres of sea grass in Biscayne Bay and the creation of over nine acres of artificial reef. As mitigation for anticipated impacts to existing resources, hard coral relocation was required. Coral colonies measured 10 to 25+ cm.  Pinnacle’s team played a critical role in developing and implementing many of the protocols used for this project. Pinnacle’s team has successfully relocated over 10,000 scleractinian corals, octocorals and sponges. Additionally, Pinnacle was tasked with ensuring field methods and data collected met the requirements of the environment resource permits and followed critical quality control protocols.

Seagrass Assessment and Mapping

Pinnacle characterized and mapped seagrass habitat located in and adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway in the Port of Palm Beach. This assessment survey was conducted from 26 to 29 August 2011, and in support of a proposed dredging project. The purpose of this study was to survey the Lagoon bottom in vicinity of the proposed dredging project and document any associated seagrasses, particularly Johnson’s seagrass (Halophila johnsonii), which could be impacted by the footprint of the proposed dredging activities. The survey was conducted in two phases in accordance with recommendations by the National Marine Fisheries Service (2002) recovery plan for Johnson’s seagrass. The first phase was conducted to delineate, identify, and map existing seagrass beds in vicinity of the study area. The second phase was used to determine seagrass densities using quantitative sampling methods including Braun-Blanquet (1932) and shoot densities (shoots/m²). Species of special concern also were monitored during the survey. Pinnacle provided knowledgeable scientific and technical personnel with navigational geopositioning expertise and local knowledge of the project area. Pinnacle provided the diving support vessel, diver safety and emergency response equipment, diver communications equipment, and survey quality differential geopositioning system (DGPS). Diving biologists were towed along predetermined survey lines while wearing diver communications. Diving biologists provided real-time seagrass identifications and habitat descriptions that were used to characterize the benthic community in vicinity of the proposed dredging project.

Coral Damage Assessment, Restoration and Monitoring

Pinnacle conducted a damage assessment and complete restoration of an injury site located on a federally protected Acropora reef in the Dry Tortugas National Park, where a sailing vessel ran aground. The objective of the grounding site survey was to provide a current assessment of the biological and physical conditions at the site. The damage assessment provided necessary data relevant to produce a primary restoration plan that was used to restore injured habitat at the grounding site to its pre-injury function and value. The damaged reef was assessed, surveyed and mapped. Government agencies at the State, Federal and local levels expedited permits and loaned their coral experts. Corals that were dislodged during the impact of the cable dragging were collected and cached in safe areas until reattachment could be completed. Corals were carefully delivered and attached to the reattachment area.

Seagrass Damage Assessment, Restoration and Monitoring

Conducted a damage assessment survey of a vessel grounding site located off Fiesta Key, Florida. The survey proved a current assessment of the damages and a forensics review of environmental conditions at the site since the vessel ran aground on March 2005. The assessment survey was conducted 3 September 2009. The purpose of the survey was to identify and accurately map the impacted area including prop scars, blowhole and adjacent berm and to determine the physical and biological conditions of the grounding site surrounding the undisturbed seagrass habitat. The biological status of the grounding site was assessed via general observations, qualitative and quantitative video and still photography documentation, and in situ determination of biological cover including seagrass, coral, macroalgae and other biota.

Seagrass/Benthic Assessment Survey and Mapping

Pinnacle characterized and mapped seagrass habitat located in a protected portion of  Lake Worth Lagoon, Florida. This assessment survey was conducted from 27 to 29 August 2009 and in support of a proposed dredging and dock renovation project. The purpose of this study was to survey the lagoon bottom in vicinity of the proposed construction project and document any associated seagrasses, particularly Johnson’s seagrass (Halophila johnsonii), which could be impacted by the footprint of the proposed dock extension or any construction related activities. The survey was conducted in two phases in accordance with recommendations by the National Marine Fisheries Service (2002) recovery plan for Johnson’s Seagrass. The first phase was conducted to delineate, identify and map existing seagrass beds in vicinity of the study area. The second phase was used to determine seagrass densities using quantitative sampling methods including Braun-Blanquet (1932) and shoot densities (shoots/m²). Species of special concern also were monitored during the survey.

Coral Damage Assessment, Restoration, and Monitoring

Pinnacle along with several other local coastal engineering and marine ecological firms volunteered time, services, and resources to restore a reef in Palm Beach, FL following damage by a loose cable drag from a tug boat. The reef framework did not sustain any structural damage, but the cable was dragged across the top edge of the reef over several hundred meters dislodging and fracturing numerous hard corals, sponges and other marine life. The damaged reef was assessed, surveyed and mapped. Government agencies at the State, Federal and local levels expedited permits and loaned their coral experts. Approximately 200 corals, including many soft corals, ranging in size from 10 inches to 3 feet in diameter were reattached in the area of initial damage. Monitoring visits to the site indicate a successful reattachment effort with all corals performing well, and many other damaged marine life rebounding and showing promising signs of new growth. The Florida Association of Environmental Professionals (FAEP) awarded the volunteer team members with special recognition for environmental stewardship in 2009.

Coral Reef Damage Assessment and Restoration – Guayanilla Bay, Puerto Rico

Conducted coral reef damage assessment, reef framework reconstruction, and coral reattachment in conjunction with a vessel grounding off Guayanilla Bay, Puerto Rico. On April 27, 2006 off Guayanilla, Puerto Rico an oil tanker ran aground on a bank reef of moderate vertical relief with significant coral and gorgonian cover. The initial grounding and later removal impacted 8,500 m², causing significant damage to the reef structure and community, including an unusually large thicket of Acropora cervicornis, recently listed as a threatened species. Initial activities included damage assessment and emergency restoration activities targeted the stabilization of coral fragments to prevent further damage and seed regrowth. Additional restoration efforts were required after the 2007 hurricane/storm season heavily eroded the previously impacted reef framework in the vicinity of the grounding site. Dislodged corals were collected and reattached in patch reef-like clusters providing protection from future storms.