March 31, 2015

CRF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating offshore nurseries and restoration programs for threatened coral species. Much of the work planting and caring for the corals is done by volunteers.
The donation will enable CRF to continue their work restoring coral reefs in the Florida Keys.

“This will allow us to get more corals out on the reef,” said Martha Roesler, chief development officer for Coral Restoration Foundation. “These will mostly be elkhorn and staghorn which were the dominant species. They have been about 98 percent decimated since the 1970s. We are trying to bring the reef back. These corals provide habitat for many other animals, storm protection and tourism.”

“Last year, we planted 15,000 corals, our goal this year is 23,000,” she said. “The long-term goal is to have the reefs healthy and prospering again.”

According to Roesler, CRF has five coral nurseries located in the ocean surrounding the Keys. This is the largest network of coral nurseries in the world.

“We’ve developed this technique in the Keys and hope to export it worldwide,” she said. “Our technique is based on the coral tree. It’s made of PVC and fiberglass. Each one has 100 coral frags—300 on the largest trees. Each tree houses one strain of coral, which makes it easy to monitor which do best. The frags are suspended on monofilament, which allows the coral to grow fast in all directions.

According to Roesler, there is less algae growth and easier maintenance than when corals are grown on a base, which is the typical method.

Boyd Enterprises had an example of the coral tree in its booth at Global. The tree was housed in a 500-gallon reef tank.

The WPA became involved with CRF several years ago.

“A few years ago, CRF came to WPA with an opportunity to help their project,” said Les Wilson, board of directors of World Pet Association and chair of the aquatics subcommittee. “We saw an opportunity to give back to the environment and to try to shift some of the negative tide that the aquarium industry was facing by showing how coral propagation techniques derived from the hobby are helping distressed reefs right in our own backyard. There are only a few reefs that exist in the U.S. so when given an opportunity to help repopulate a unique and very special reef habitat right here at home, it was an easy choice.”

“Supporting The Coral Restoration Foundation is a high priority for our association,” said Doug Poindexter, president of the WPA.  “We have a commitment to better our industry beyond our various events and it is our hope that we can make a positive, impacting improvement to the fish and invertebrate life that benefit from the good works of CRF.”

To learn more about Coral Restoration Foundation, including volunteer opportunities, visit their website, www.coralrestoration.org.

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