Ocean Reef Club Forges 2nd Partnership With Coral Restoration Foundation
It has been eight years since Ocean Reef Club entered into its first partnership with the Coral Restoration Foundation™ (CRF™) to help rebuild the corals and reefs that play such an important role in life at Ocean Reef and in the Florida Keys. Today, the Club is proud to announce it has committed to another five-year partnership with CRF to continue the support of coral reef restoration.
The Coral Restoration Foundation, founded in 2007, is a Key Largo-based nonprofit created to develop offshore coral nurseries and restoration strategies for critically endangered coral reefs. What began as a local effort, has grown into a globally recognized organization. CRF has been successfully growing and transplanting corals for more than a decade throughout the Keys and beyond, supporting international restoration efforts. The restoration process involves growing staghorn, elkhorn and boulder corals for about a year in an underwater nursery until they are large enough to be out planted on a reef.
Ocean Reef Club’s relationship with Coral Restoration Foundation first began in 2013 through an innovative program in which Members could “adopt a coral” and watch it grow for a year in one of Coral Restoration Foundation’s nurseries. With this relationship, the Club and the Ocean Reef Conservation Association became CRF’s first community donors. Then in 2015, the Club committed to a groundbreaking five-year collaboration with CRF to bring Carysfort Reef, one of the world’s most iconic reefs that lies just five miles from Ocean Reef’s shore, back to life. Called “Carysfort 2020”, the goal was to outplant 30,000 corals at Carysfort Reef over the span of five years. By 2020’s end, not only had CRF exceeded their goal with 35,108 corals being out planted, effectively saving Carysfort Reef from extinction, but the efforts have paved the way for large-scale reef restoration, providing hope for coral reefs around the world.
“For so many of our Members, the Florida Keys environment is a primary reason they choose Ocean Reef Club,” said Ocean Reef Club President Alex Tonarelli. “Therefore, the Club recognizes how important it is to our Members to preserve and enhance our environment for many future generations to enjoy. That is the reason the Club partnered with CRF back in 2015, and coupled with the tremendous success, why the Club Board has agreed to do so again.”
The impact of the initial partnership with CRF provided inspiration for launching Florida based Mission: Iconic Reefs, a collaborative effort facilitated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to coordinate the work of different restoration organizations in the Florida Keys under a unified plan, along with proving that large-scale restoration work can improve livelihoods and diversify the local economy.
Additionally, the success of the ORC/CRF project has helped to attract investments from other public and private organizations. The project has bi-partisan support in the federal government and is a model for similar restoration projects around the globe. In fact, the U.S. Congress recently passed a bill, co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, that significantly increases federal funding to coral restoration projects. Mission: Iconic Reefs will restore almost three million square feet of Florida’s coral reef, about the size of 52 football fields, at seven key reef sites. As a direct result of the success of Carysfort 2020, Carysfort Reef is at the heart of Mission: Iconic Reefs, receiving the bulk of the restoration work outlined in the plan.
“Ocean Reef Club has consistently demonstrated their commitment to the community of the Florida Keys through their support of our critical coral reef ecosystem,” said Dr. R. Scott Winters, CEO, Coral Restoration Foundation. “The impact they made through the five-year Carysfort 2020 initiative, hosting Raise the Reef and the Reef Futures symposium, is also having an incredible, global ripple effect; the work we are doing together has inspired not only the Florida-based Mission: Iconic Reefs plan but also a wave of large-scale coral restoration initiatives worldwide. We are thrilled that we will be continuing to build this legacy together.”
The Club’s five-year commitment will be used exclusively for coral restoration at Carysfort Reef, which lies right in Ocean Reef’s own backyard, and will include site preparation, the removal of some nuisance species, outplanting of approximately 14,000 genetically diverse reef-building corals, and post-outplanting site maintenance and monitoring.