While it’s true that coral reefs are beautiful, they are also much much more. The importance of reefs in the ocean can be compared to that of rain forests on land. They support incredibly diverse ecosystems by providing both food and shelter to a multitude of organisms.
The destruction of reefs also has a detrimental effect on humans. Over 500 million people depend on coral reefs for shoreline protection, food, and as a source of income. Without coral reef ecosystems, the fishing industry would lose a serious chunk of product. Tourism would be hurt as well.
20% of Earth’s coral reefs have been destroyed and another 20% has been badly damaged. That’s where the Coral Restoration Foundation comes in. Founded by Ken Nedimyer, the nonprofit has been growing and transplanting coral in the Florida Keys since 2001.
The Nedimyer’s team grows small fingers of coral by suspending them from the “branches” of a PVC “tree trunk.” The CRF method for culturing the “frags,” as small coral pieces or fragments are called, is unconventional but highly successful and creates a distinctive sunken landscape.
The Elkhorn coral frags that have grown large enough to be transplanted have seen a 100% survival rate. And the coral is not just surviving, but thriving! Most pieces have grown substantially since transplantation.