Restoring Coral Reef Off Florida Keys
Tim Grollimund, Coral Restoration FoundationThe long process of restoring coral at a popular reef off the Florida Keys has begun. Biologists with the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), the research arm of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC); the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary; the Coral Restoration Foundation; the Wildlife Foundation of Florida (WFF); and the family of the late Charlie Stroh have partnered to begin a multiyear effort to restore coral at Davis Reef, off Islamorada.
Stroh was a successful Iowa businessman who retired to Islamorada and became a deep-sea-fishing enthusiast. He died in 2006, but his final wish was to ensure that Davis Reef is healthy and thriving. By working with the WFF, Stroh’s daughter, Nicole Hass, has helped make that wish a reality.
“It is exciting to see dedicated donors work with the FWC and the WFF to create these unique conservation efforts,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “Efforts like this enhance the FWC’s ability to make significant conservation impacts in tough budgetary times. Public-private partnerships are clearly the wave of the future.”
The FWC and its partners have just started the first phase of the project by placing nursery-reared corals at several locations at Davis Reef. The project has the potential to jump-start coral recovery at Davis Reef. The significance, however, reaches far beyond Davis Reef itself. Because coral reef restoration is in its infancy, the scientific information developed at Davis Reef will lead to restoration designs that can be used across the entire Florida Keys in the future.
“It is well-known that reefs throughout South Florida have lost coral cover over the past few decades,” said John Hunt, FWRI biologist and project leader. “We are thrilled to be part of a new effort to restore coral to this reef.”
Reefs are vitally important to South Florida. They provide essential habitat to fish and wildlife resources. They provide shoreline protection. Tourism and fisheries are supported by reef habitats. In fact, reef-related industries account for billions of dollars in revenue annually.
“This project represents the kind of partnerships that are exciting and necessary for conservation in Florida,” said Brett Boston, executive director of the Wildlife Foundation of Florida. “Private donors providing gifts that are meaningful to them enable the Foundation’s partners to perform critical habitat-restoration efforts.”
The Wildlife Foundation of Florida is raising $100,000 to initiate and sustain this initiative for three years or longer. To learn how you can make a difference in coral reef restoration, please visit www.wildlifeflorida.org.
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