CORAL RESTORATION IN FLORIDA
Coral reefs along the Florida coastline just received a considerable boost from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Coral Restoration Foundation, the world’s largest reef restoration program has been awarded $2.1 million in funding from NOAA to restore eight reefs along the Florida Reef Tract.
The Coral Restoration Foundation was selected as the sole recipient of this sizable contribution dedicated to coastal habitat restoration under NOAA’s Acropora Recovery Plan. The $2.1 million grant will be distributed over three years and will be matched dollar for dollar by Coral Restoration Foundation.
Acropora Recovery Plan
The purpose of this recovery plan is to identify a strategy for rebuilding and assuring the long-term viability of elkhorn coral and staghorn coral populations in the wild. Elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) coral cover has declined 92-97% since the 1970’s and is currently listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
The Florida Reef Track is the third largest barrier reef in the world, spanning nearly 150 miles along the coast of South Florida and the Florida Keys. The grant, awarded by NOAA, will allow Coral Restoration Foundation to take the next leap in restoration efforts and will contribute to advancing the organization’s overarching goal of saving our world’s oceans.
Three Year Plan
The project’s first year will begin with a Pilot Study involving close to 10,000 corals being outplanted across 20 reefs. This followed by monitoring throughout the year to identify eight best suitable reef sites for the remainder of the project. Over three years, the Coral Restoration Foundation plans to outplant over 50,000 elkhorn and staghorn fragments, towards NOAA’s Acropora Recovery Plan.
In addition to being a very impressive restoration effort, this project will also result in the creation of a unique scientific data set that researchers can use for years to come. The data collected will provide a greater understanding of coral survivorship and will come from a monitoring program that examines three primary attributes of coral genotypes: growth, condition, and survivability.
The NOAA grant will also help increase capacity for outplanting of other threatened species. The Foundation will continue culturing encrusting star coral (Orbicella faveolata) and boulder coral (Orbicella annularis) with the goal of creating 2,000 colonies over the course of the grant.
The scale of this project is unprecedented and shines a light not only on the urgency of saving our reefs, but the fact that there is still hope for the future of our oceans. Coral Restoration Foundation believes that large-scale massive action is required to save the world’s coral reefs and that is exactly what they are doing. By scaling current techniques and engaging Citizen Scientists, we can save our oceans.
Coral Restoration Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization based in Key Largo, FL working to restore our coral reefs, educating individuals on the importance of our oceans, and using science to further research and monitoring techniques. To get involved or learn more, visit coralrestoration.org.