A special message from Coral Restoration Foundation™ CEO, Dr. R. Scott Winters
As you might be aware, Coral Restoration Foundation™ (CRF™) is presently engaged in an effort to rescue Florida’s corals from a potentially fatal ocean heatwave.
Here’s a recap of what’s been happening:
In anticipation of high summer water temperatures, CRF, NOAA, and many other restoration partners moved representative samples of elkhorn and staghorn corals to two land-based facilities outside the Florida Keys. We have also safeguarded corals at Keys Marine Lab. Through this effort, we have protected nearly all elkhorn genotypes, and many staghorn, found throughout Florida’s Coral Reef.
High water temperatures have now arrived, stressing Florida’s corals, particularly in the lower Keys. At Sombrero Reef on July 20th, we found bleached corals: wild and outplanted. At Looe Key on July 21st, elkhorn and staghorn corals in our nursery had bleached, but we were able to rescue our boulder corals.
CRF™ has begun phase two of our intervention efforts to protect as much of Florida’s reef-building coral as we can, particularly Acroporid and rare species.
In the Upper Keys, corals are starting to show signs of stress.
And we are just entering what is expected to be an unusual – if not unprecedented – warm season in the Keys.
Yes, the situation is serious, but it is far from hopeless.
Since 2007 CRF has been working to restore Florida’s coral reefs: innovating, testing, and scaling up. Work that you - our community - have supported.
Consequently, we have been able to respond rapidly to current events: coordinating with our partners to preserve living samples of the stony-coral genotypes in land-based nurseries and rescuing the less common corals in our care. Now we are turning our attention to protecting as many corals as possible. Some will be lost, particularly if elevated ocean temperatures continue and expand northward. But we and our colleagues throughout the Keys, are committed to doing everything we can for our reefs.
"We will learn valuable lessons from this experience. No matter how challenging, events of this nature strengthen our resolve, test our methods, and help us adapt, leaving us better equipped to move forward. These lessons will strengthen us for the future and enable us to help others around the world.
CRF™ has the best community of support in the world. Since first learning about the bleaching event in Florida, many of you have asked what you can do to help. Here’s a short list:
Continue to help us raise awareness – post, repost, respond… you get the idea. Help us tell a story of hope, not merely one of loss. There are countless successes every day that get buried under the bad news. Yes, what is occurring is bad, and yes, it is tragic. But that is not the whole story. Events like those we are currently experiencing are precisely why coral restoration is so important. Coral restoration is about rebuilding coral reefs and the communities that depend on them, not simply outplanting corals.
Show your support – it really is invaluable. And not just to CRF.™ Many organizations in our community are – and have been – working tirelessly to help protect Florida’s coral reefs: NOAA, the National Marine Sanctuary along with its foundation, FWC, Mote, Reef Renewal, The Reef Institute, NOVA Southeastern University, University of Miami, Florida Aquarium, and the Monroe County Tourist Development Council to name a few. A quick email, social media post, or “hello” at the bar. We believe our work means something to the world, and a random act of kindness acknowledging this goes a long way – especially now.
Tell your elected representatives that coral reefs are important to you! Preserving and restoring Florida’s coral reefs can only be accomplished through supportive funding and policies — call, email, and accost your local, state, and federal representatives at the grocery store. Tell them Florida’s reefs are important, tell them to support funding and policies that protect and restore reefs, and tell them that we must take action to mitigate climate change. Coral reefs are vital to our community culturally and economically.
CRF™ remains steadfast in our mission. Thank you for standing with us.
CEO, Coral Restoration Foundation™