Meet Our Partner: Coral Restoration Foundation

by 4Ocean Team March 24, 2018 3 Comments

Meet Our Partner: Coral Restoration Foundation

You may know our partner for the month of March, but do you know the team behind the amazing work? We got to ask Alice Grainger, Coral Restoration Foundation's Program Intern, about her time and experience with the work CRF is doing to save coral reefs.

1. When was Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) founded and where do you do most of your work?

CRF was founded in 2007 by Ken Nedimeyer. It has a grown to become the largest coral restoration effort in the world, growing critically endangered species of corals on around 500 Coral Trees across seven large nurseries throughout the Florida Reef Tract. Since it was founded, Coral Restoration Foundation has outplanted over 66,000 critically endangered staghorn and elkhorn corals back onto the reef on sites ranging from Key Largo down to Key West.


2. How did you become involved with CRF and what is your current role with the organization?

I started working with CRF as a Coral Conservation and Reef Restoration Intern in the Summer of 2017. I had graduated from Florida International University the previous year with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Environmental Studies and Marine Biology. I’m currently a Program Intern working in the Communications and
Development Department where I get to the learn about whole range of work involved in running an ocean conservation non-profit. It has been a great experience working on everything from researching grants to support
our mission, writing up blogs and articles for our Coral Chronicles Newsletter, to managing our social media channels.

 

 

3. For our readers that are unfamiliar, can you please explain what coral bleaching is and the current status of our reefs is worldwide?

Most species of coral have microscopic algae living inside them, called zooxanthellae. Increased temperature, pollution, disease, and sedimentation are all stressors of corals. Stress causes the algae to be expelled from the coral which reveals the stark, white color of the coral's skeleton through its tissues. While this does not necessarily mean that the coral is dead, the coral has lost a significant part of its food supply.

In the past 30 years, we have lost up to 50% of the world’s shallow coral reefs due to climate change, overfishing, and other activities. In the Caribbean as
much as 80% had been lost in recent years. Although these numbers may appear daunting, there is still hope. We still have time to turn things around to protect the reefs that we have left, and restore those that are damaged to a healthy state.


4. Can you tell us a little bit about the programs you run to help combat the difficult situation coral reefs are facing?

Our Restoration Program manages all aspects of our reef restoration work – from building and maintaining the Coral Trees in our nurseries, to outplanting corals. They are also tasked with developing innovative ways to continue to improve our methods.

The Science Program works on monitoring coral survivorship once corals have been outplanted on the reefs. This program also leads our collaborations with other research institutions, universities and government agencies, to better understand wider questions related to coral reef conservation and restoration.

Our Education Program provides engaging learning packages for students of all ages to enrich their curriculum. They run exciting, hands-on workshops and presentations, including Skype sessions for schools that around the country. The also hold regular dive programs for recreational divers and snorkelers.

Our Volunteer Program is an integral part of our organization, supporting every aspect of our restoration program.

Our Internship Program allows young professionals to gain unique experience with, and contributing to, a thriving
ocean conservation non-profit.

There is a lot going on at Coral restoration Foundation!

 

 

5. What are some interesting or surprising facts that not many people know about coral?

Corals have been around for approximately 500 million years. The oldest living coral ever dated was found to be 4,265 years old!

They can reproduce both asexually through fission or fragmentation or through sexual reproduction which occurs yearly during the full moon in August where corals collectively release their gametes. Coral polyps then utilize many methods when choosing a settlement site such as phototaxis, or a sensitivity to light availability. Corals generally need a lot of sunlight to survive so they will try to
find a settlement area where a lot of light is available.


Another way they find settlement spots, is sonotaxis, or sensitivity to sound. Corals have been shown to be sensitive to the difference between the copious background noise of a bustling coral reef and the relative silence of the open ocean, and swim towards the reef where they can settle among other corals. 

For such simple looking organisms, corals are remarkably complex, and well adapted to living in healthy oceans!

 

6. How does the health of coral reefs affect the health of the entire ocean and world as a whole?

Coral reefs make up only 0.2% of the entire ocean floor, and yet, they provide a habitat for 25% of all marine species. And just as the reef provides habitat for a quarter or all ocean life, coral reefs also provide massive benefits to us on land.
For example, a healthy coral reef can provide protection on the coasts from erosion and storms. In Florida alone, there are almost 1,200 miles of coastal shoreline. Without the reefs to cut down wave energy, massive hurricanes like Irma have the potential to do far more damage.

A healthy reef also can provide food on a global scale. When a reef is healthy it can support a diverse range of larger fish that local communities can use as a sustainable food source and stock for the fishing and seafood
industry.

7. What can our readers do on a personal level to help stop or reverse what’s happening to our coral reefs?

Anyone local or willing to travel to the South Florida area can volunteer with our organization whether it be on land or in the water, we accept all the help we can get. Our personal daily actions can have some of the biggest impacts on the reefs. Reducing your carbon footprint is one of the best ways you can support the survival of coral reefs, everyday. You can reduce your carbon footprint by carpooling or using electric vehicles, eating and shopping sustainably and locally, and reducing your meat consumption. Pay attention to local and federal policies and always vote to make your opinion be heard!

Use reef-safe sunscreen whenever entering the water, avoid any sunscreen with the ingredient oxybenzone, which is harmful to corals and has been shown to cause coral bleaching.

Every year, over 8 million tons of plastics finds its way into our oceans, threatening our coral reefs. One of our biggest challenges is reducing our use of plastics. You can help in this matter by carrying a reusable water bottle, reusable utensils, and a tote bag. Commit to refusing to use plastic straws, plastic bags and plastic utensils this year.

 

2018 is the International Year of the Reef and you can join the movement as well! Be an ocean warrior and help raise awareness for the protection of one of the world’s natural wonders, the coral reefs. Purchase a Limited Edition Coral 4Ocean Bracelet to support not only cleaner oceans, but coral reef restoration as well. Wear it all year long to show your continuous support for the Year of the Reef. Click HERE to get yours now!



4Ocean Team
4Ocean Team

Author

3 Responses

Patricia Morris
Patricia Morris

April 01, 2018

I would like to be considered as a volunteer and be informed of any programs planned anytime. I am available and willing and able to do any job needed

Bertrand
Bertrand

March 29, 2018

your initiative should be copied. When do you guys set up shop on the Mediterranean shore ? we have an even bigger issue: that Sea is closed and none of the Middle East countries like Lebanon or Turkey have a decent plastic recycling system for their residential litter that all end up in the Sea…

Patricia Morris
Patricia Morris

March 28, 2018

I live locally and I am interested in volunteering. I am a scubadiver, so I could help both in the water and on land. Please consider me for a volunteer and let me know. Thank you

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