The vibrant culture of the Key West is embodied by establishments like Margaritaville Beach House Key West. Bright smiles and diverse crowds reflect the reef ecosystem just offshore. Preserving Florida's Coral Reef is about more than environmental conservation for Margaritaville, it's about fostering that unforgettable Keys culture.
Today on #WorldOceansDay, we're excited to announce that at Margaritaville Beach House Key West you can support CRF™ and our mission to restore Florida's Coral Reef by purchasing a signature Margaritaville Beach House Key West tumbler! They will be donating 100% of the proceeds from every tumbler sold in the month of June to directly support the work and mission of the Coral Restoration Foundation™. Your reusable tumbler will also help reduce waste and marine debris from single-use plastic water bottles.
Our CRF™ Coral Crew linked up with Carynn Jackson of Margaritaville Beach House Key West to learn about this collaboration and her personal connection to coral reefs and what makes them such a vital part of life, and vacations, in the Keys!
Carynn Jackson is the Marketing Manager for Margaritaville Beach House Key West.
What is your earliest memory of the ocean?
Growing up in South Florida, the ocean was an integral part of my childhood. Days spent swimming, boating, fishing, snorkeling, and beach going are woven into most of my memories and played a huge part in shaping my interests and worldview. The ocean is in my blood and I have a hard time whenever I’m far from it.
What is your favorite marine creature?
This is so tough – I have so many favorites! If I have to choose, I’d say the manatee. These gentle creatures have given me so many special memories with our encounters. They play a crucial role in the ecosystem and face many threats, which is why I feel very protective of them. (But please don’t tell the corals, sea turtles, rays, fish, sharks, nudibranchs, whales, octopuses, or any of the other sea creatures I also love!)
Have you experienced a healthy coral reef ecosystem?
During my childhood, my family and I spent a lot of time in the Keys and we considered it a second home. The long days with my family spent snorkeling the reefs, admiring and
observing the vibrant colors and diverse sea life are my happiest memories. I remember, even as a child, loving that quiet blended with the natural noise of underwater life and how serene and content it felt. I still think it’s the closest you can get to heaven on Earth.
Have you seen a badly degraded reef system? How did that make you feel?
As an adult now living as a full-time resident of the Keys, I wanted to share the beauty of our reefs with my son. Unfortunately, I’ve been heartbroken to witness the loss and degradation of many of the reefs I so loved visiting as a kid. The contrast between a once vibrant and thriving reef system and the desolate and barren ruins that exist today has been an unwanted reminder of just how dire the reality is.
Only skeletons remain of a once thriving expanse of elkhorn corals. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
What concerns or scares you the most about climate change?
We have already reached levels of irreparable damage and destruction to our planet with human action. Where we go from here is a thought that keeps me up at night. My concern is that we will fail to take appropriate actions to invest in safeguarding the future of all Earth’s inhabitants. I worry we forget that we, too, are animals living on this planet and climate change will affect us all at every level of our lives. If we do not choose to unite in action then we will fail to secure a safe future…with more immediate consequences than many realize.
Why do you, personally, care about coral reefs?
To me, coral reefs represent so much: the surreal beauty of the natural world, the balance and coexistence of all living things, and sharing these experiences with the ones you love.
As I mentioned, spending time at the reefs with my family were some of my happiest memories. My father instilled the love and respect for the ocean in his children and the protection of coral reefs was very important to him. Since his passing a decade ago, I have felt most connected to him when spending time on the ocean and especially when gliding peacefully over a coral reef. The thought of these special and essential ecosystems vanishing is heart-wrenching.
Through making new meaningful memories with my son and teaching him firsthand the importance of protecting our reefs, my dad’s legacy and memory live on in the next generation. It’s my deep hope that the coral reefs will too.
Why is protecting and restoring coral reefs relevant to your brand?
At Margaritaville Beach House Key West, the ocean is much more than a pretty view to us. Located directly across from Key West’s Smathers Beach, our hotel attracts ocean-lovers from all over the world who come to experience our beautiful coastal waters. Lasting memories are made with sunset cruises, ocean swims, and family dive trips to the coral reefs. We know healthier reefs equal healthier oceans and protecting our ocean home means giving back to the reefs that have given so much to us.
Why should the average person care about coral reefs?
It’s easy to say you feel protective of something you’ve personally experienced. Many issues can feel “out of sight, out of mind,” but the health of our planet’s coral reefs have impact on a global scale. There are so many reasons every person should care about these critical ecosystems. To name a few: more than half of the oxygen we breathe comes from coral reefs, they provide crucial protection to the world’s coastlines, and they contribute greatly to the global economy.
Nurturing our reefs is nurturing our future.
In your opinion, what are some of the most powerful tools at our disposal that we can apply to the mission to save coral reefs?
Education, education, education! I believe that continuing to build stronger and louder voices to communicate the necessity and the urgency around coral health is vital. With education comes understanding, and with understanding, comes the drive for action and change.
Hand in hand is teaching our youth. I have so much faith in the younger generations’ ability to think globally and critically. By educating and involving them early on, we can empower them to take our efforts so much further. (My son attends a marine science school and those students are learning so much and already putting their education into action!)
By broadening the message and reaching more audiences, I think the chances for improving on and creating new and successful tools is exponentially increased.
What do you think are some of the easiest ways that the average person can join the mission to save coral reefs from extinction?
From small actions to larger ones, we can all take part in saving our coral reefs. A very small step everyone can take is using reef-safe sunscreen! There are many options available
nowadays and this one should be a no-brainer. Other small actions that can be taken include learning and practicing responsible boating, always disposing of trash properly, minimizing fertilizer use, choosing sustainably-sourced seafood, and sharing the mission with others.
In addition to the day-to-day actions, getting involved with organizations like CRF™ who are working to restore and protect our reefs is a huge help. Supporting these organizations by volunteering and/or donating to their cause is the perfect way to join the mission.
Finally, lending your voice to advocacy is extremely important. Without defenders, all of these efforts could be futile. Real change is made when we join forces and request action.
Do you think there is hope for our coral reefs?
While I am deeply saddened and fearful of the trajectory we are on with our coral reefs, I do choose to remain hopeful. I have hope in the work of organizations like CRF™ and believe we can use the benefits of the digital age to our advantage when it comes to spreading awareness and educating people on a large scale.
Most of all, I have hope in the younger generation and their global perspective and passion for our environment. I truly believe they will bring about real lasting change. But, we all have to do the work now to make immediate changes in this moment and supply them with the tools to be sure they’re left with the best possible fighting chance.
Thank you to Margaritaville Beach House Key West for supporting CRF™ and conserving the truly unique and inspiring Keys culture. The ocean is a strong and resilient community and there is hope for reefs when we work together!
Madalen Howard is CRF's Communications and Outreach Coordinator. Madalen comes to CRF™ via a winding road from the Tennessee hills, to the South Carolina low country, ending here in Florida’s Coral Reef. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Marine Biology and a Minor in Environmental Studies from the College of Charleston in 2016. Her experience ranges from field research to education, and communications.
Madalen spent the last 4 years as a Field Instructor and Social Media Strategist for MarineLab Environmental Education Center. Here she was able to study and teach marine ecology, while snorkeling through mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs every day. While at MarineLab she combined her education and research background, entered the world of communications, and developed MarineLab’s social media department from the ground up.
Throughout her life Madalen has had a skill connecting people with nature. With CRF™, she is excited to bring people into the world of coral restoration, creating inclusive pathways to scientific discovery.