(Washington, DC) January 10th, 2018 – Mote Marine Laboratory and Coral Vita have formally entered into a collaborative coral conservation initiative to increase coral reef restoration efforts globally in order to rehabilitate at-risk reef ecosystems.
The goal of this collaboration is to advance the science, frameworks, and strategies of coral reef restoration with a particular interest in developing a sustainable economic model to help scale reef restoration. The partnership officially began on November 7, 2017, with the signing of a one-year memorandum of understanding (MOU), with the intent to extend in the future.
Coral reef health: why this matters
Globally, coral reefs support livelihoods and food security for up to one billion people, sustain 25% of marine life, and generate tens of billions of dollars annually through tourism, fisheries, and coastal protection. But reefs are under serious threat: more than 30% have died since the 1970s, and in the past few years up to 50% of the Great Barrier Reef perished due to unnatural ocean warming. Accelerating coral degradation poses a major risk to these ecosystems and the value they provide to associated communities, nations, and industries.
“The loss of coral reefs is not just an ecological tragedy, but a socio-economic catastrophe,” said Sam Teicher, Co-Founder of Coral Vita. “We are witnessing one of the most critically important and wondrous ecosystems disintegrate in front of us, and countless people will suffer from it. That’s why we must act right now to preserve coral reefs for future generations.” Coral Vita is a for-profit start-up working to restore our world’s dying and damaged reefs. It uses innovative restoration techniques – like the microfragmenting method developed by Mote scientists to accelerate growth rates up to 50x – and a land-based coral farming model in an effort to scale up restoration and create sustainable financing mechanisms for their work. Ultimately, Coral Vita envisions a global network of large-scale farms to sustain these vital ecosystems and the communities they support.
Collaborations such as this one are a strategic component to amplify coral restoration efforts at Mote. In recent years, Mote has partnered with notable organizations such the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge and SCUBAnauts for assistance with outplantings and The Nature Conservancy for coral restoration at unprecedented scales throughout the Caribbean. Due to the success of these relationships and Coral Vita’s vision, this new collaboration is a natural progression is expanding the coral research and restoration mission.
“Mote has a nearly 63-year history of diverse research conducted by scientists driven by their passion for research for impact in addressing the grand challenges threatening the sustainability of our oceans. Coral reef ecosystems are particularly impacted by increasing ocean temperature and acidification that has pushed these rainforests of the sea past a tipping point for them to be able to recover on their own. The basic and transformative research that Mote conducts is vital, but we also have a responsibility to translate and transfer the findings of our science into positive ecological, societal and economic impacts,” shared Dr. Michael P. Crosby, President & CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory. “It is entrepreneurial and philanthropic collaborations like this one with Coral Vita, in which solid science and action will ensure whether or not corals will thrive once again for centuries to come.”
“We’re incredibly excited to establish this formal relationship with Mote in order to help bring reef restoration to the next level,” said Gator Halpern, Co-Founder of Coral Vita. “Mote is one of the institutions that inspired us as we created Coral Vita, and they continue to develop cutting-edge research that makes impactful reef restoration not only a possibility, but a viable reality. It will be great to continue learning from and working with the Mote team over the coming years in order to make the difference we all care about: sustaining as many coral reefs as possible.”
What this partnership will accomplish
Collaboration between one of the world’s leading marine research labs and a pioneering start-up will enhance and amplify the science and impact of coral reef restoration. This in turn provides coral reefs a significantly better opportunity to survive rapidly changing oceans until global actors implement solutions to mitigate climate change and environmental degradation.
Over the next year, Mote and Coral Vita will explore strategies to enhance coral reef education campaigns for local reef communities and global audiences, investigate potential joint research projects, and share materials to advance the efficacy of coral reef restoration. Coral Vita is preparing to launch its pilot coral farm in the Caribbean in early 2018. As an independent, nonprofit marine science and education institution of five campuses from Sarasota, Florida to the Florida Keys that conducts diverse research programs around the world, Mote has developed innovative technologies to grow staghorn, brain, boulder and star coral fragments and planted approximately 30,000 of them onto depleted reefs in the Florida Keys. In early 2017, Mote opened a new coral reef research and education facility at its Summerland Key campus, where Mote scientists have already pioneered groundbreaking methods to restore reef-building corals at accelerated rates and begun to genetically identify staghorn coral strains for potential resilience against threat. In addition to working with Coral Vita in 2018, Mote plans to increase the outplanted number of corals significantly, expand the research team and their efforts to accommodate the changing ocean conditions.
Support coral reef restoration and research:
● Donate to Mote: Please contact Erin Kabinoff at 941-388-4441, ext. 415 email@example.com
● Adopt-a-coral with Coral Vita: Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org