Every June, in line with World Oceans Day, Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) in Tavernier hosts the world’s largest coral restoration event in the world, inviting divers from all over the globe to celebrate all things coral. From hands-on restoration of our local reefs to educational events aimed at stewardship of our ocean resources, Coralpalooza is an event that inspires hope in many.
In 2019, some 300 people from 11 countries took part, and in the Florida Keys alone more than 250 divers helped to return over 1,700 critically endangered corals to the Florida Reef Tract.
This year, the pandemic has inspired some changes that will help CRF take its mission and reach even further: the 6th annual Coralpalooza is going digital and will be freely accessible to everyone around the world. Coralpalooza Digital 2020 will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 6.
“Coralpalooza is one of CRF’s most important events of the year,” said Alice Grainger, CRF’s communications director. “It is a chance for us to demonstrate that, by working together, we can achieve great things. It’s also a chance for people from all over to come and get involved in the biggest restoration effort on the planet. Going digital means that more people than ever before can join the fun.”
On Saturday, June 6, a fully interactive, state-of-the-art digital platform will bring the immersive event into attendees’ living rooms. In addition to exclusive, never-before-seen videos, interviews and presentations, CRF is promising a treasure hunt and special guests such as the famous artist Wyland, Richard Vevers of “Chasing Coral” and Philippe Cousteau, co-founder of EarthEcho International and grandson of celebrated explorer and film-maker Jacques Cousteau.
“Coral reefs are some of the most wondrous ecosystems in the world,” said Philippe Cousteau. “Coralpalooza Digital is a fun and exciting way to celebrate them and learn about how we can all come together to protect and restore them.”
So what exactly does a digital coral restoration event look like?
According to Grainger, there will be “digital booths” where people can stop by virtually to find out about different coral restoration projects around the world. They can live-chat with organization representatives, watch videos and download content.
Content is geared for people of all ages and experience with and knowledge about coral reefs, Grainger said. There will also be a Kids Zone with special activities for kids to do at home and an appearance by the infamous Captain Coral, CRF’s unofficial pirate spokesperson and coral crew leader.
CRF will also still be conducting physical restoration work on reefs in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, weather permitting, Grainger said.
“Our restoration team will be out on the water, and we will be doing a live link-up to the boat,” she told the Weekly.
Kristel Siongco, a California native who took part in the event in 2019, said, “Coralpalooza was such an amazing way to experience the jewel-toned waters of the Florida Keys. I got to see up close how corals are being restored, which was very inspiring. I would have loved to have participated again this year in person, but will join virtually to support the cause.”
Roxane Boonstra, who heads up Coralpalooza planning for CRF, said, “Even though we can’t get together in person this year, we are excited that it’s allowed us to open the event up to more people than ever before – anyone can register. This really is the spirit of Coralpalooza –showing that large-scale, massive action and collaboration is required if we are going to be able to save and restore our precious coral reefs.”
More information is at coralrestoration.org. Registration is open until 1 p.m. EST on Saturday, June 6.