Key-Largo –Home to the World’s largest Coral Reef Restoration Organization
As recreational scuba divers for twenty years, we have sadly witnessed the degradation of coral reefs globally. We read about Coral Restoration Foundation™, CRF™, in Key Largo and registered to spend a day learning what we could do to leverage our skills and positively impact our treasured coral reef marine environment. As divers and snorkelers, we have access to a unique perspective on humans’ effect on life underwater. As ocean ambassadors, we have a responsibility to do what we can to protect marine life.
The CRF™ Tavernier Coral Tree Nursery in the Florida Keys is A world Leader.
Coral reefs, sometimes referred to as “rainforests of the sea,” have existed for over 500 million years and are some of the world’s oldest living animals. Corals form a symbiotic relationship that benefits aquatic life and animal well-being. Although coral reefs occupy less than 1% of the ocean floor, they support at least twenty-five percent of all fish species, making them crucial to ecosystems and biodiverse ocean life worldwide. Florida is home to one of the World’s most extensive coral reefs, and CRF™ Tavernier Nursery in Key Largo is the largest coral reef nursery of its kind on the planet. Establishing a biodiverse ecosystem is essential because various species make the reef more resilient to withstand disturbances.
Coral Reefs Support Local Fishing and Tourism
The National Marine Fisheries Service reports that the commercial value of U.S. fisheries from coral reefs exceeds $100 million. Coral reefs support local, recreational, and commercial fishing providing employment and generating revenue in recreational fishing charters, diving and snorkeling tours, and restaurant industries.
Corals Environmental Benefits
Healthy coral reefs offer barrier protection against storms, floods, wave surges, and erosion, preventing the loss of life and property. While Florida has so much to offer and has experienced massive growth throughout the state, the risks to reefs must factor into the equation. Careful consideration and planning are essential, or by the century’s end, we risk losing coral reef systems worldwide, and researchers recognize the situation’s urgency.
Restoration of Coral Reefs Are Critical to Ocean Life
Coral Restoration Foundation™ in Key Largo is a global leader in coral restoration, supporting coral reef recovery on a large scale. Since 2007, CRF has returned more than 170,000 endangered coral transplants to Florida’s Coral Reefs. The coral is grown on “Coral Trees” and later planted on reefs, flourishing into thriving colonies. Nurseries are self-sufficient, with each tree holding up to 60 corals, and spawning is evidence that the corals are thriving.
Making a Difference
I had the pleasure to speak with Roxane Boonstra, CRF™ Dive Training Administrator. Roxane brings her strong scientific background and extensive diving career experience to CRF™ as the coordinator of educational programming and dive trips inspiring others to care for and outplant corals from their nursery into wild reefs. “I believe that the coral reefs belong to all of us, and science belongs to all of us, and I can make it relatable; our data shows the important impact our programs have on participants,” says Roxane. We left CRF™, happy with restored hopefulness after a hands-on afternoon spent diving in the nursery and chiseling algae off the branches.
There is Hope
Ecosystem recovery is possible. We can choose to positively impact the ocean locally and globally by mindful actions such as conserving water, volunteering at a local beach clean-up, avoiding dropping anchors near a reef, and reducing single-use plastic usage. For more details, please visit Coral Restoration Foundation.
“Even if you never have the chance to see or touch the ocean, it touches you with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, every bite you consume. Everyone everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence of the sea.” ~ Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue
Photo Credits- Zach Ransom and Alexander Neufeld.