An alternative Mother’s Day bouquet, thanks to the hard work of Coral Restoration Foundation

Happy (belated) Mother’s Day! It is tradition, no matter where we are in the world, for my brother and me to get our Mother, Julie, a bouquet of flowers to celebrate her special day. This year, in the spirit of advancing organizations working to solve environmental problems, instead of simply buying another dozen roses, we decided to adopt a coral from the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF). For being such an incredible Mother, Julie helped to support the maintenance of Staghorn Nubbin K2-143 growing in CRF’s Ken Line Nursery in the Florida Keys. Over the next year she can login to to check on the status of her nubbin (photo below).

CRF, led by Ken Nedimyer, is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to restoring coral reefs. They have taken the pioneering approach of “growing” coral in nurseries throughout the Florida Keys, which are then transplanted onto reefs as part of restoration activities. CRF owns and operates the largest offshore coral nursery in the United States, including three separate nurseries in the Florida Keys. CRF has transplanted corals to 22 different reef areas in the Upper Keys, and has recently received a permit for a landscape scale restoration project at Molasses Reef off Key Largo, Florida that will initially involve transplanting 1200 corals from the nursery to the reef. The goal of each restoration project is to re-establish genetically diverse thickets of coral and nurture them to maturity so they can spawn and repopulate downstream reef areas.

Ken, a longtime aquarist, came up with the idea of growing and transplanting corals after noticing that corals were propagating on live rock on his aquaculture lease area in the Florida Keys. However, rather than applying the technology purely for a profit, which Ken could have easily done, he took the path less traveled by establishing a foundation dedicated to long-term reef restoration.

In late March 2011, I had the opportunity to meet Ken Nedimyer, CRF President, and Kevin Gaines, CRF Operations Manager, during a site visit to one of the nurseries with the Alex C. Walker Foundation and Georgia Aquarium. During two truly breathtaking dives, I first saw one of CRF’s nurseries, which had over 7,000 corals at the time, and then dove on one of CRF’s main restoration sites, Molasses Reef. Ken and his team are an amazing example of environmental social entrepreneurs. The approaches that CRF is pioneering have the potential to restore reefs to approximately their original biodiversity and stability worldwide.

While the opportunity to adopt a coral for Mother’s Day has passed, coral adoptions and donations are accepted year round. Please consider visiting CRF by clicking here, a great organization with a big heart for restoring the biodiversity of Florida’s reefs.

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