Assessing the Health and Possible Harm from
Discarded Dredge Material


DISCOVERY Yacht Surface Interval
Fort Lauderdale, FL
January 27, 2022

Research Team

Dr. Paul Arena, Ph.D.; Michael McDonough, M.S. Candidate; Rose Leegei, B.S.

Purpose of Research

The purpose of this study is to observe the impact of dredging Port Everglades on the health of surrounding Florida reefs.

Duration of Project

2018 - Present

Project Overview

On January 27th, The International SeaKeepers Society assisted Nova Southeastern University’s Professor Paul Arena, and student researchers Rose Leegei and Michael McDonough to deploy a commercial grade mini ROV(Remotely Operated Vehicle) from DISCOVERY Vessel, Surface Interval. Their eventual aim is to provide information on the fish communities that utilize a relatively unknown and unexplored deep water habitat. Due to its depth, SCUBA surveys are restricted, thus an ROV unit could be utilized to record video surveys of these areas. The goal is to compare fish assemblages associated with various benthic habitats in the mesophotic zone. Recent bathymetric mapping and submersible dives have discovered an area of deep reef covered by spoil produced by the dredging of the Port Everglades Inlet. Areas to the North and South of this buried area remain unaffected and in a natural condition.

This was the ninth outing of the project and these surveys will continue on a monthly basis. This was also yet another outing with DISCOVERY Yacht Fleet member Rick Thomas, the owner and operator of D/V Surface Interval. He is also an avid deep sea diver and provided some GoPro footage in addition to the footage taken by the ROV.


Long term, data collected in this study can be used in the future to implement more informed dredging procedures in order to minimize the destruction on surrounding reefs and protect the overall health of local marine ecosystems.

Short term, the graduate students helping to conduct this research have presented the results of their work to Professor Arena’s Bio 3200 Ecology class since 2019. The last meeting of the course focuses on ecological research and the ROV study, impacting the next generation of marine scientists.

Expedition Goal

The goal of this expedition is to use the video footage from the ROV deployment to compare fish assemblages and observe fish communities in a relatively unknown and unexplored deep-water habitat.


Port Everglades Inlet