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Eastern Dry Rocks Coral Rescue Mission

As Florida’s summer weather brought a devastating coral bleaching event to south Florida, researchers across the Florida Keys began scrambling to save our coral reef. To make matters worse, the marine heatwave doesn’t discriminate against its victims: naturally occurring or lab-grown, both coral types are at risk.

In some areas in the Lower Keys, researchers noted 100% coral mortality after prolonged heat exposure. Eastern Dry Rocks, a coral reef located within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, is of particular concern.

After a $30,000 grant from our Foundation last year, Reef Renewal USA (RRUSA), a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring endangered reefs, was able to put healthy coral specimens back onto Eastern Dry Rocks. Their team completed six dive trips and outplanted 2,510 individual staghorn corals. Mike Echevarria, President of Reef Renewal, and his team jumped into action to save their hard work in response to the unusually high water temperatures.

“We’ve been focusing on rescuing all the available living corals by moving them into tanks on land or to deeper water,” said Mike Echevarria. The deeper water provides cooler temperatures to avoid coral bleaching, which increases their susceptibility to diseases.

Although as much work as possible is being done to secure the future of Eastern Dry Rocks, researchers likely won’t have the full scope of damage until the water begins to cool again.

To ensure that the reef is around for the next generation to experience, donate to our coral fund to support important projects like these. Learn more about the plight of our coral reef by clicking here.

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