(MIAMI, Florida) Sept. 12, 2016 – Mote Marine Laboratory and The Nature Conservancy partnered on a coral conservation initiative. One that will be enabling coral restoration at unprecedented scales. All throughout the Caribbean and the Florida Keys. Hence, the collaboration officially began Sept. 12, 2016; in Miami.

That’s with the therefore signing of a one-year memorandum of understanding (MOU). Yet as a result enabling the first steps in a proposed 15-year initiative. One of consequently joint coral reef restoration and conservation efforts.

As a result, the goals of the initiative are to restore more than one million corals all across the region’s reefs. Furthermore it will share science-based coral restoration and conservation practices. That’s more over among U.S. and international Caribbean partners. Thereby constructing  necessary facilities such as coral gene banks. All which as a result preserve genetically diverse coral tissue.

Furthermore it helps researchers find strains resilient to environmental change. So the Sept. 12 MOU will therefore officially launch one year of planning and preparation. All which will as a result include growing 50,000 coral fragments.

Because coral reef systems help provide shoreline resiliency that protects coastal communities. They also create vibrant, healthy oceans. All more noteworthy for the people that depend on them.

Now ocean acidification is also increasing. I mean ocean temperatures as a result of climate change. Furthermore overfishing, unplanned coastal development and other associated stressors. So let’s go with waste water too.

All of these things have therefore damaged or decimated reefs around the world. That’s why the coral cover in Florida and the Caribbean has declined too. Above all by 50 to 80 percent in some areas in just the last three decades.

Mote Marine Lab scientists and volunteers restore staghorn corals.
Mote Marine Lab scientists and volunteers restore staghorn corals.

 

Pavlos Kollias is an atmospheric scientist in the Environmental and Climate Sciences Department at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory. He’s also professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) at Stony Brook University (SBU). Pavlos I learned is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at McGill University.

He adds that the current way atmospheric monitoring and warning systems are done aren’t sufficient. Especially in predicting urban microclimates. So there are advances needed therefore in distributed remote-sensing networks, numerical meteorological models, and high-performance computing.  They are therefore as a result needing improvement. Especially and above all for hyper-local weather forecasting capabilities.

So Mote is an independent, nonprofit marine science and education institution. I’ve been to them twice in my life in Sarasota. Yet they have five campuses. They are more noteworthy from Sarasota, Florida to the Florida Keys. Also they conduct diverse research programs around the world. I learned they have developed innovative technologies. All to grow staghorn, brain, boulder and star coral fragments. Then they are planted approximately on 20,000 places. All of them onto depleted reefs in the Florida Keys.

Then in early 2017 Mote opening a new coral reef research and education facility. So located at its Summerland Key campus where Mote scientists have already pioneered groundbreaking methods. All restoring reef-building corals at accelerated rates. For the have begun to genetically identify staghorn coral strains. Therefore also monitor for potential resilience against threats.

So The Nature Conservancy is an international conservation organization. One that is consequently working to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends.

That’s throughout the Caribbean and Florida. So the Conservancy has worked with their partners to advance science-based conservation actions. Those including establishing coral nurseries and planting even more than 15,000 coral colonies from the nurseries onto reefs.

This is as a result over the past 12 years in the Florida Keys, Dry Tortugas and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Furthermore, these coral nurseries start from the Florida Keys. Plus it seems like it goes all the way down to Grenada. Most interestingly and are part of the largest restoration project of its kind.

Therefore by combining forces, two of the world’s foremost independent marine research and conservation organizations are making history. For they consequently will launch an innovative, international coral reef restoration initiative. One therefore giving the Caribbean and Florida Keys coral reefs a better chance to survive. Likewise, this is delivering ecological and economic benefits to future generations.

Key goals for the one-year agreement and onward

Now through September 2017: The one-year MOU will help Mote and Conservancy staff secure additional coral restoration permits. Even more they will plan their reef restoration initiative for the coming years.

Likewise they will fundraise collaboratively and grow. Growing , I mean approximately 50,000 fragments of various coral species at Mote’s facilities in the Florida Keys. In addition to the Conservancy’s facilities in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Also, partners will focus on selecting coral strains resilient to increasing water temperatures. In addition to ocean acidification and disease. In early 2017, Mote will enhance these efforts by opening its new coral reef research facility on Summerland Key.

By 2020: A networked coral gene bank of threatened Caribbean and Florida coral species will be established and accumulate genetically identified coral tissue samples as “insurance” against climate change and near-term catastrophic events for reefs, such as widespread bleaching, diseases and oil spills.

Efforts will include enhancing or expanding coral nurseries and adding gene banks to Mote and Conservancy facilities in Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands, respectively. Mote and Conservancy staff will forge and advance international partnerships for upcoming coral restoration in priority locations including Cuba and the Bahamas.

By 2025: Mote and Conservancy staff plan to work with U.S. and international partners to restore corals at unprecedented rates for the Caribbean and the Florida Keys. Goals include planting one million coral fragments in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys and 500,000 in at least three other Caribbean nations.

The partners aim to establish a new, permanent coral restoration facility in St. Croix to be jointly operated by Conservancy and Mote staff. They will also complete training of key local personnel working at U.S. and international coral restoration areas, and in the process, disseminate state-of-the-art coral science, conservation and restoration practices around the Caribbean.

Mote and the Conservancy will work together and leverage their ongoing research and community engagement programs to secure the philanthropic investments needed to implement these innovative programs for restoring coral reefs and engaging local communities to lead in these efforts.

Mote is already working with middle- and high school students in its Coral Research and Conservation Program that the Lab spearheaded with EARTHANGLE Inc. Now, the MOU between Mote and the Conservancy will help expand this program, with the ultimate goal of educating and engaging more students and their communities in coral reef conservation and restoration activities in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida Keys.

Due to human-induced emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) build up in the atmosphere. For that reason that excess CO2 is dissolving into the oceans. All where it reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid. This means therefore lowering ocean pH levels (“acidification”). In addition it means threatening a number of marine ecosystems.

Currently, the oceans absorbs about a quarter of the CO2 humans produce every year. Over the last 250 years, the oceans have absorbed 560 billion tons of CO2, increasing the acidity of surface waters by 30%.,,

Finally, and even more, the average oceanic pH can vary on interglacial timescales. So the current observed rate of change is roughly 50 times faster. I mean furthermore than known historical change.

In conclusion, regional factors such as coastal upwelling and changes in discharge rates from rivers and glaciers. Finally and also sea ice loss, and urbanization. They have all created “ocean acidification hotspots”. So again and above all these hotspots are accelerating climate change. So that’s where the changes are occurring at even faster rates.

Source: Mote Marine Aquarium, September 12, 2016, Hayley Rutger and the NCA Climate Assessment