Sometimes, the news from the reef can feel heavy and hopeless. Between record coral bleaching, overuse of ocean resources, toxic runoff, and now a mystery coral disease, it’s easy to lose hope. 

Many non-profits are tackling coral restoration, but Coral Restoration Foundation and Mote Marine Laboratories have it down to a science – literally. Between CRF’s large-scale outplanting to get corals back to the reef en masse and Mote’s critical climate resiliency testing to ensure we plant corals that can withstand end-of-century water temperature predictions and pH levels, the research involved with restoring our reefs advances daily. With NOAA’s new “Mission: Iconic Reefs,” these efforts will only continue to grow in scale and importance. 

Here’s the 2019 recap from the reef:

Coral Restoration Foundation™

CRF, Mote kick up restoration efforts in 2019 - A man flying through the air while riding skis - Coral reef
A diver cleans algae and other nuisance species from coral “tree” structures in a Coral Restoration Foundation nursery. These structures are used to grow staghorn coral (pictured) and other coral species in ocean-based nurseries. CORAL RESTORATION FOUNDATION/Contributed

Corals outplanted in 2019 (through Dec. 1): 31,831
Corals outplanted lifetime (through Dec. 1): 108,500
Area restored by CRF in 2019: 3,000+ square meters
Area restored by CRF in total: 8,000+ square meters
Working dives in 2019 (through Dec. 1): 5,250

Acroporid genotypes that spawned in 2019: 12+

Citizen-Science and Outreach
CRF Dive Programs in 2019: 90
Dive Program Participants in 2019: 1,379
Corals outplanted by CRF Dive Programs in 2019: 4,700+
Coral Restoration Distinctive Speciality Certifications in 2019: 150+

CRF, Mote kick up restoration efforts in 2019 - A person swimming in a body of water - Coral reef
A CRF diver replants staghorn coral. The coral fragments are attached to the reef with epoxy and tagged to keep track of genetic information. CORAL RESTORATION FOUNDATION/Contributed

“CRF’s ability to put large volumes of corals back on the reef is an exciting achievement of scale. Although our reefs are in decline and face many threats, with our ability to operate at such a scale we are successfully able to keep up with this decline and ensure these populations remain present until outside stressors can be removed.”

– Jessica Levy, restoration program manager, Coral Restoration Foundation





Mote Marine Laboratory, Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration (IC2R3) on Summerland Key

CRF, Mote kick up restoration efforts in 2019 - Pattern M
Mote Marine Laboratory in Summerland Key uses coral raceways, or land-based nurseries, to grow out coral fragments until they’re ready for outplanting. MOTE MARINE LABORATORY/Contributed

Corals outplanted in 2019 (through Dec. 16): 28,083
Corals outplanted lifetime (through Dec. 16): 77,687

Corals settled via sexual propagation in 2019: 33,400 recruits (33,000 Orbicella faveolata, 200 Acropora cervicornis, and 200 Porites astreoides)
Corals fragmented in land-based nursery: 11,200

Citizen science and outreach
Bleach watch/C-Ocean – Nearly 1,000 reports for citizen scientists in 2019
Reef revival: New voluntourism program, officially kicking off in Jan 2020
Combat Wounded Veterans/Scubanauts: Every summer, 40+ Combat Wounded Veterans and nearly 30 youth scientific divers help in Mote’s nursery as well as outplanting.

CRF, Mote kick up restoration efforts in 2019 - A close up of a plant - Stony corals
Mote outplants certain coral species on ceramic plugs, which the corals overgrow quickly. The result is more restored tissue growing more quickly than could naturally grow in the wild. DAN MELE/Contributed

“It’s an exciting time to be joining together with (coral restoration) partners. As much bad as there is, there’s a lot of good. From Mote’s perspective, we feel like we’re uniquely positioned to help provide some science behind the restoration because of the resilience testing we’re doing and ensuring from sexual reproduction that we’re being genetically sound with our restoration.”

– Allison Delashmit, community relations & communications manager, Mote Marine Laboratory

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