Three miles of coral reef off Lake Worth Inlet, Fla. were heavily damaged and Florida state divers are trying to determine how the reef was damaged and by whom. According to a report on WPTV.com, a trail of destruction along the Flower Garden Reef stretches about three miles to the Lake Worth Inlet. Diver Van Blakeman was in 45 feet of water when he noticed a trail of corals and barrel sponges torn apart, as if “something skipped across the top of the reef and dug into the rock itself cutting everything off in its path.”
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Once Blakeman noticed the destruction, he called the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which is currently investigating the incident. The DEP is speculating that the culprit could be a barge that sailed over the reef in early March, on its way to dredge sand for a replenishment project at Delray Beach. The owner of the barge is Illinois-based Great Lakes Dredge and Dock. The company said in the report that it does not know who is responsible because it contracted the towing of the barge to three different companies. Although it hasn’t admitted fault, the Illinois company is working to repair the reef, in which ways are still unclear given some of the species of corals and mushrooms that were destroyed are hundreds of years old.