Quantcast
Popular
Divers at work in the Coral Restoration Foundation Coral Tree Nursery. Alice Grainger / Coral Restoration Foundation

It’s Time to Raise the Reefs

By Coral Restoration Foundation

With today's resources and knowledge, it is possible to bring coral reefs back to a healthy state. But we need to do it soon, and we need to do it fast. And what better time to do it than in 2018, the International Year of the Reef?


Life on Earth needs coral reefs. They are the "rainforests of the sea," supporting 25 percent of all marine life, protecting our shores, feeding our people, providing pharmaceutical solutions and breathtaking natural playgrounds that underpin economies around the world. Yet coral reefs are among the most endangered ecosystems on the planet.

On Our Doorstep

Running from north of Miami down to Key West in the south, right on Florida's doorstep, lies the Florida Reef Tract—the third largest barrier reef in the world and the only barrier coral reef in the continental U.S.

The Florida Reef Tract was once dominated by two species of reef-building coral, staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) and elkhorn (Acropora palmata). It now hosts just three percent of the once-dominant staghorn and Elkhorn cover that it had in the 1970s. These became some of the first corals to be included on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, and are both now listed as "Critically Endangered"—one step away from a listing of "Extinct in the Wild."

Alice Grainger / Coral Restoration Foundation

The Invisible Emergency

At the current rate we are losing them, all shallow water coral reef systems could be functionally extinct in the next 80 years. As the Netflix documentary, Chasing Coral, so powerfully revealed, the crisis gripping our oceans is dramatic, but also, unfortunately, invisible to most people.

Films like Chasing Coral are vital as they are helping to bring the death of our coral reefs to light, generating a groundswell of awareness and action, at a time when it is now essential that we act together to save and restore these precious ecosystems. Thankfully, we have the data and technology to enable us to do just that.

One organization is offering a practical way of bringing coral reefs back from the brink of extinction—the Coral Restoration Foundation, based in Key Largo, Florida.

Born in the USA

Over the last decade, the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) has developed a science-driven method for "farming" and "outplanting" colonies of staghorn and elkhorn, in an effort to bring these species back from the brink of extinction.

By hanging finger-sized fragments of these corals to grow on Coral Trees™, suspended in the nutrient-and-sunlight-rich water column, Coral Restoration Foundation can produce colonies that are large enough to be planted onto the reef in just six to nine months. With around 500 Coral Trees™ across seven large nurseries, to date, CRF has now planted more than 66,000 corals back onto the Florida Reef Tract.

CRF's outplanted coral thickets are now spawning naturally—evidence that the method is working, and that with a little help, these damaged reefs could eventually return themselves to a healthy state.

Thanks to collaborations with organizations such as NOAA, The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Universities, Georgia Aquarium, Force Blue, Florida Aquarium, dive operators, private businesses and the local community, Coral Restoration Foundation has recently been able to shift its mission into higher gear: Their focus in the U.S. is now on fully restoring eight reef sites along the Florida Reef Tract.

A healthy elkhorn thicket.Alice Grainger / Coral Restoration Foundation

Everyone is Part of the Solution

It is a massive undertaking, but with the methodologies at our disposal, and the right support, it is a very achievable goal. But to be truly successful, the most important partner CRF needs, is you.

The Coral Restoration Foundation has practical ways that you can get involved, both on and off the water: Recreational dive programs let you help in the Coral Tree Nurseries, outplant corals and monitor reefs that are in the process of being restored. You can also take part in CRF's events, volunteer programs, educational activities and donations drives.

You may feel powerless in the face of the threats to our oceans, but you are not alone; there are hundreds of thousands of oceans advocates around the globe, working right now on protecting the planet's marine ecosystems. And, in the same way that CRF's tiny coral fragments have the potential to grow into large, healthy, reproductive coral thickets, every tiny, individual, positive action adds up to make an enormous difference.

Coral Restoration Foundation Nursery Coral Tree.Alice Grainger / Coral Restoration Foundation

Six Ways You Can Support the Future of Coral Reefs Everyday

  • Support ocean conservation organizations
  • Choose only sustainable seafood
  • Reduce your carbon footprint
  • Use reef-safe sunscreen
  • Reduce your plastic consumption
  • Share the message

You can learn more about what can be done to save our coral reef ecosystems, and join the mission in a meaningful way on April 28, at Raise the Reef 2018, Coral Restoration Foundation's 6th Annual Gala. Click here for more details and to buy tickets. For more information on the Coral Restoration Foundation, visit the website.

Coral Restoration Foundation Profile

Coral Restoration Foundation is a non-profit marine conservation organization dedicated to restoring reefs to a healthy state, in Florida and globally. Through large-scale cultivation, outplanting and monitoring of genetically diverse corals, CRF works to support the reefs' natural recovery processes. CRF engages and empowers others in the mission with dive programs, educational activities, scientific collaborations and outreach.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Energy
Seismic tests are a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. BSEE

Judge Halts Seismic Testing Permits During Shutdown

Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.

The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Pxhere

DiCaprio-Funded Study: Staying Below 1.5ºC is Totally Possible

Climate change has been called the biggest challenge of our time. Last year, scientists with the United Nations said we basically have 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5ºC to avoid planetary catastrophe.

Amid a backdrop of rising global carbon emissions, there's a real case for pessimism. However, many scientists are hopeful of a way out.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Martin Luther King Jr. at steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963.

MLK Would Have Been an Environmental Leader, Too

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words and actions continue to resonate on the 90th anniversary of his birth.

As the country honors the life and legacy of the iconic civil rights leader today, we are reminded that the social justice and the climate movements are deeply connected.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A great tit family and nest. Bak GiSeok / 500px / Getty Images

Climate Change Leading to Fatal Bird Conflicts

By Marlene Cimons

Most Europeans know the great tit as an adorable, likeable yellow-and-black songbird that shows up to their feeders in the winter. But there may be one thing they don't know. That cute, fluffy bird can be a relentless killer.

The great tit's aggression can emerge in gruesome ways when it feels threatened by the pied flycatcher, a bird that spends most of the year in Africa, but migrates to Europe in the spring to breed. When flycatchers arrive at their European breeding grounds, they head for great tit territory, knowing that great tits—being year-round European residents—know the best nesting sites.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Brazil, Pantanal, water lilies. Nat Photos / DigitalVision / Getty Images Plus

Saving the World’s Largest Tropical Wetland

Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.

Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on Jan. 19 in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe

35,000 Protestors in Berlin Call for Agricultural Revolution

By Andrea Germanos

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
A Massachusetts road coated with snow and ice following the winter storm which prompted Trump to mock climate change. Scott Eisen / Getty Images

Trump Once Again Confuses Weather and Climate in Response to Deadly Winter Storm

President Donald Trump has once again contradicted the findings of the U.S. government when it comes to the threat posed by climate change. Days after a Department of Defense report outlined how climate-related events like wildfires and flooding put U.S. military installations at risk, Trump took to Twitter to mock the idea that the world could be getting warmer, Time reported.

Trump's tweet came in response to a massive winter storm that blanketed the Midwest and Northeast this weekend.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
The fire that erupted after a pipeline explosion in Mexico Friday. FRANCISCO VILLEDA / AFP / Getty Images

85 Dead in Mexican Pipeline Explosion

A dramatic pipeline explosion in central Mexico Friday has killed at least 85 people, Mexican Health Minister Jorge Alcocer Valera said Sunday night, The Associated Press reported.

The explosion occurred in a field in the municipality of Tlahuelilpan as people rushed to gather fuel from the pipeline, which had been ruptured by suspected thieves. Many were covered in oil before a fireball shot into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!