Three parallel submarine terraces found along the southeast coast of Florida, stretching from Miami through Palm Beach County, are described. The central portion of this area near southern Palm Beach County was analyzed with respect to geomorphology, community composition, and zonation
from the low-tide mark to a depth of 50 m. Twenty-seven species of scleractinian corals and 39 species of gorgonians are found here and define a typical coral-reef community farther north than has been acknowledged. Gorgonian diversity is maximal at a depth of 15-20 m, while scleractinians
are most diverse in shallower water. Studies of gorgonian biomass indicate a trend toward large numbers of small individuals in low-diversity environments, and a smaller number of larger individuals in higher-diversity environments. A mean density of 25.1 colonies/m2 gives these
reefs the highest concentration of gorgonians yet recorded in the Caribbean region.
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