Coral reef diving: determining the health of corals

L-R: Nicole Bayne and Dr. Esther Peters. Photo Credit: Eliot Rotford.

MS student Nicole Bayne (left) and Associate Professor Dr. Esther Peters (right) photographed and collected data on the health of stony corals on the wreck of the Jay Scutti, an artificial reef sunk off Ft. Lauderdale, and during several other dive trips on reefs of Broward County, Florida, during August 2-8, 2018.

Nicole has started working on her science communication thesis research which will document the development of a citizen scientists’ reef monitoring program called Adopt-A-Reef.  Together with Dr. Pamela Fletcher (NOAA, AOML) and support from the town of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Nicole seeks to improve data collection efforts for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coral Reef Conservation Program.

Dr. Peters is an internationally recognized expert on coral health and is involved in histopathology research to identify the cause(s) of the 2014-2018 outbreak of coral diseases that killed many corals on south Florida and Florida Keys reefs. These dives found many (but scattered) apparently healthy corals remaining on these sites. Both divers are members of George Mason University’s chapter of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences.

The photo was taken by Eliot Rotford, Plantation, Florida, another diver on the dive boat Sea Experience‘s trip.

Important Dates for Students

SPRING 2020 Semester (modified due to COVID-19)

MLK Day (university closed): Jan 20

First day of classes: Jan 21

Spring Break (extended): Mar 9-20

Dissertation/Thesis Deadline: May 8

Last day of classes: May 11

Reading Day(s): May 12

Final Exam Period: May 13-20

University Commencement: May 22 (tentative)

COVID-19 DATE CHANGES – For the complete modified spring calendar, see and for latest COVID-19 updates, see: