Just a hop skip and a jump from CRF™ headquarters in Key Largo is the thriving metropolis of Miami; home to 2.7 million people directly connected to the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world. Veza Sur Brewing Co. opened their doors in 2017 in the art district of Miami, where vibrant colors and life flow freely and evoke the same energy found just a few miles offshore, on Florida's Coral Reef.
Both Coral Restoration Foundation™ and Veza Sur want to conserve, restore, and amplify life in South Florida, making our new collaboration electrifying. Veza Sur has brewed the South Coast IPA to be the perfect South Florida IPA, ideal for anytime of the year and meant to be enjoyed outside. Now, people can grab a six pack or a pint of South Coast IPA and they will be contributing to coral reef restoration, an urgent cause that will have a positive impact on everyone's life in South Florida.
Marshall Hendrickson, co-founder and Head of Operations at Veza Sur Brewing Co., has grown up loving and benefiting from the ocean and wants people to understand the vital role coral reefs play in all our livelihoods, especially in South Florida. To conserve all those fun days of freediving, not to mention real estate and tourism value, Marshall and Veza Sur want to ensure a future for Florida's Coral Reef. So grab yourself a cold South Coast IPA and read Marshall's full interview detailing his connection to the ocean and support of Coral Restoration Foundation™.
Left and Right: Restored staghorn coral on Florida's Coral Reef. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
Center: Marshall Hendrickson, Co-founder and Head of Operations at Veza Sur Brewing Co.
What is your earliest memory of the ocean?
My earliest memories of the ocean are in Bolinas, California. One of my close childhood friends grew up there, and that's where I learned how to surf.
What is your favorite marine creature?
Dolphins, they are so clever and playful, and are also fantastic surfers. Sea otters are cool too, they just chill on their backs all day and eat shellfish.
Have you experienced a healthy coral reef ecosystem?
I've done a lot of free diving in the Caribbean Coast of Panama, specifically in the San Blas Islands and Bocas del Toro. I also go freediving a lot off of Key Biscayne, and there are parts of Florida's Coral Reef out there that seem to me to be ok! It's great to see reefs so close to home.
Restored CRF™ corals on Florida's Coral Reef growing into sprawling thickets. ©Alex Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™
Have you seen a badly degraded reef system?
I've seen some decimated reef in the Pacific ocean of Panama, off of the Pearl Islands. It's really sad, everything is grey or white and broken into pieces, and there's no fish, totally lifeless and abandoned. It's awful.
What concerns or scares you the most about climate change?
My favorite places in the world are coastal towns and cities, it would be horrible to see these communities uprooted and having to start a new life elsewhere due to climate change. We are already starting to see climate refugees starting new lives from zero, this will become disastrous when it starts to happen at a larger scale.
Why do you, personally, care about coral reefs?
The health of our oceans is integral to the health of our planet, so if we want to continue to enjoy life on planet earth we better take care of our oceans, and it starts with healthy coral reefs! On a personal level, all of my favorite things to do in life involve the ocean: surfing, free diving, fishing, sailing... the ocean has given me a lot, and I definitely feel a need to maintain its health so that others can enjoy the ocean as well.
Why is protecting and restoring coral reefs relevant to your brand?
South Florida's oceans and beaches are our greatest natural treasure. There are enormous economies like hospitality and real estate (just to name a few) that depend on healthy
oceans and clean beaches. Life in South Florida wouldn't be what it is today if we didn't have healthy oceans, and preserving the coral reefs is the first step to maintaining a healthy ocean. Our South Coast IPA was brewed to be the perfect South Florida IPA, ideal for anytime of the year and meant to be enjoyed outside. Now, people can grab a six pack or a pint of South Coast IPA and they will be contributing to coral reef restoration, an urgent cause that will have a positive impact on everyone's life in South Florida.
Why should the average person care about coral reefs?
Healthy coral reefs provide a lot more than just beautiful scenery for divers. They absorb CO2 out of our atmosphere, they provide habitats for thriving fisheries, they act as protective barriers to our oceanfront cities, the list goes on. We all depend on healthy coral reefs a great deal more than we may realize.
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 is probably the most important first step. It's critical for folks to understand why coral reefs are in jeopardy around the globe, and more importantly, what the long term effects of that are. Coral Restoration Foundation™ does a fantastic job providing educational resources to give folks an overview of all the challenges our world's coral reefs face today. I also think that folks in the US don't realize how extensive and important our reef system is here in Florida! The loss of an entire ecosystem is happening in our backyard, and there are ways we can all help.
What do you think are some of the easiest ways that the average person can join the mission to save coral reefs from extinction?
Educating themselves and their community. Once we have more folks understanding why coral reefs are in danger across the world, and what is causing their degradation, then people can act accordingly. And that applies to folks that live thousands of miles away from the ocean! If more folks understand that ocean warming, ocean acidification, pollution and overfishing are all serious threats to the health of our coral reefs, then we make lifestyle adjustments to try to mitigate that.
Coral Restoration Foundation™ educates communities on the importance of our oceans engaging and empowering people to join us and help save our planet's coral reefs. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
Do you think there is hope for our coral reefs?
Yes! CRF's techniques for coral reef restoration are some of the most advanced in the world, and they have established some incredible best practices for coral restoration efforts around the world. Also, education is a huge part of CRF's mission, and the more folks that learn about the pitfalls of coral reef restoration, the better chance we have of saving them!
Thank you to Marshall and Veza Sur for their support of our mission to restore coral reefs to a healthy state and their dedication to the vibrant and unique environments (both human and coral) of South Florida!
Madalen Howard is CRF's Marketing Associate. 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.