T-Minus Go Time

We’ve moved to Grand Bahama to launch our coral farm. What a moment for Coral Vita.

Four years ago, Gator and I were sipping on a few beers on our back porch after class at the Forestry School. Topic of the evening: what are some of the biggest environmental challenges facing society and our planet today? The Yale School of Management had a course called ‘Entrepreneurial Business Planning’ we wanted to apply to, geared towards the final product of drafting a viable business plan for a novel idea. We started throwing around a few ideas, seeing if any of them felt good. Was it tackling a problem that matters? Did they speak to our passions? Could we be the ones to create a business solution?

Eventually, I brought up my experience helping launch a UN-funded coral farm with ELI Africa and the Mauritius Oceanography Institute. Since that experience in 2012, I had been amazed by the promise around reef restoration. I saw fishermen setting up their traps a hundred yards away from a coral farm in a once-devastated lagoon because there was so much more life. Corals rebounding where before they had been dying. Schoolchildren were hopping in the water to experience marine biology in the wild. But one thing was evident – the traditional limited grant-funding system for restoration will not cut it for the scope of the problem: 75% of global reefs dead by 2050. As Gator and I dove deeper into the issue, we reckoned this was something worth pursuing: creating a company that could deliver financially sustainable, high impact, and large-scale coral reef restoration.

 Close up of a reef-building Acropora coral, which is often found in coral farming projects. Photo credit: The Ocean Agency

Close up of a reef-building Acropora coral, which is often found in coral farming projects. Photo credit: The Ocean Agency

Fast forward to this morning. Today, we walked the site of our forthcoming coral farm alongside the Grand Lucayan Waterway of Grand Bahama. We toured the site with Joe Pollock and Frederick Arnett of The Nature Conservancy. As we spoke about our vision for coral farms all around the world, standing right on the spot where our raceway tanks will soon be pumping seawater past coral fragments, I was hit with a sudden wave of gratitude.

To our families, for supporting us even when it seemed like things may fall apart. The teachers who accepted our proposal for a radical idea to get customers to buy reef restoration. Coral farmers and scientists around the world who forged a long and strenuous path to prove to the world we can do this. Investors who took a risk to help protect coral reefs, like Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and his wife Erica, who took us out to lunch last Friday as we prepared to move here. Our amazing friends and social entrepreneurs from Halcyon, Echoing Green, and the JM Kaplan Fund who provide us with nonstop inspiration. The Grand Bahama Port Authority for taking the leap together with us on our first coral farm. And the countless communities around the world who live day-by-day alongside the bounty coral reefs provide, and who are helping protect these incredible ecosystems even in the face of total global collapse.

 Gator sharing visions of global-scale reef restoration with the The Nature Conservancy team, starting here at the farm site in Grand Bahama.

Gator sharing visions of global-scale reef restoration with the The Nature Conservancy team, starting here at the farm site in Grand Bahama.

 Proud to have Erica and Max Scherzer on Team Coral Vita!

Proud to have Erica and Max Scherzer on Team Coral Vita!

Coral Vita is part of something much greater than ourselves. It’s a trying time in our world, on so many fronts and levels. Yet there is no other option but to fight for our planet and for our lives. And standing here in Grand Bahama with Gator, seeing an idea become a reality, I know that we can do this. And I’m so excited for the opportunity. It’s go time. Looking forward to having you down to plant corals with us soon.

 

- Sam