Updated: Oct 25, 2019
Coral Restoration Foundation™ has now outplanted more than100,000 critically endangered corals to the threatened Florida Reef Tract.
Coral Restoration Foundation™ is at the forefront of the world’s coral restoration efforts.
Coral Restoration Foundation™ invented the famous “Coral Tree”, now commonly used by groups around the world to grow large numbers of corals quickly and cost effectively.
This latest milestone is the result of a massive scaling up of Coral Restoration Foundation™ efforts: we outplanted more than 23,000 of these corals in 2018 alone, and, so far in 2019, we have returned more than 24,000 corals to the Florida Reef Tract
This work has been made possible through collaborations and community support – a significant number of these corals were outplanted by volunteers.
A number of groups and agencies have also been pivotal to this effort, including the NOAA Restoration Center, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Ocean Reef Club, the Coral Restoration Consortium, the Monroe County Tourist Development Council (TDC), and others.
Coral Restoration Foundation™ is announcing a huge milestone in the fight to restore and save the world’s third largest barrier reef: as of July, 2019 we have officially returned 100,000 “reef ready” corals to the Florida Reef Tract since 2007. But the majority of these animals returned to the wild in the last four years, as we have scaled up our efforts dramatically. This huge achievement demonstrates the power of collaborative action to save and restore our coral reefs, but it is just the beginning.
Coral Restoration Foundation™ is undertaking the largest coral restoration effort in the world. Since inventing the now-famous “Coral Tree”, today we manage seven huge offshore coral nurseries capable of producing more than 44,000 genetically-diverse, “reef-ready” corals every year.
The species we are working with are critically endangered, particularly the staghorn and elkhorn corals which have seen their populations decline by up to 97-percent along the Florida Reef Tract in the last 40 years. These vital reef-building species used to dominate Florida’s shallow reefs, underpinning the region’s tourism and fishing industries. Corals outplanted by Coral Restoration Foundation™ have been observed spawning in the wild since 2012 - evidence that the animals are thriving in their natural habitat, and that these methods really work.
Restoration work of this scale has only been made possible as a result of an unprecedented, collaborative network of active stakeholders. On a daily basis, volunteers from Florida and beyond join the Coral Restoration Foundation™ team out on the water.
Financial support to the Coral Restoration Foundation™ in the form of grants, individual donations, and corporate sponsorships has also been critical in bringing this many corals back to the reef. Three sources of funding have been particularly instrumental in kicking this work into a higher gear; a five-year grant from Ocean Reef Club for the restoration of Carysfort Reef, a three-year grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and regular awards from the Monroe County Tourist Development Council (TDC).
R. Scott Winters, Coral Restoration Foundation™ CEO, attributes the organization's success to its approach: “Coral Restoration Foundation™ has been able to maximize the impact of this funding by taking a collaborative, holistic approach to our restoration efforts. This latest milestone is a testimony to what is possible when a community comes together.
“We have built a robust science department that monitors restoration sites and collaborates with other leaders in coral research and restoration such as NOAA’s Coral Conservation Program, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and others.
“We have been engaging the local community with impactful events like Coralpalooza™, which mobilizes hundreds of divers on World Oceans Day every year, the Raise the Reef annual fundraising gala at Ocean Reef Club, and regular public dive -programs that let all ocean lovers have an active role in restoring reefs. The fact that our volunteer base is growing demonstrates that more people than ever before are committed to ensuring a future for our coral reefs. Our educational programs are now empowering the next generation to become ocean stewards.”
But this is just the beginning. Winters continues, “We know what needs to be done and how to do it. We have demonstrated that successful large-scale restoration is possible. But we need to keep going. We are working on more efficient outplanting techniques that will enable us to restore the ecosystem function of the reef more immediately. We want to get corals that are already mature enough to spawn out into the wild as quickly as we can. We are developing monitoring methods that let us get a more meaningful insight into the impact of our work. There is still much to do. Saving our coral reefs means everyone getting on board and supporting this effort in any way they can.”