Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida
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Foundation Awards Nearly $34,000 to Restore Sponges

Tallahassee, FL (April 16, 2019) – The nonprofit Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida announced a grant for nearly $34,000 to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to improve sponge restoration efforts in Florida Bay.

The sponge community in the Florida Keys has been severely damaged due to recent marine cyanobacterial blooms and by being exposed to the air as water levels dropped in Florida Bay during Hurricane Irma. These sponges are foundational to the health of the Florida Keys ecosystem because they are critical habitat juvenile fish and invertebrates, like the spiny lobster and stone crab. Thus, their restoration is essential. This project will fund research to better understand the most effective restoration model to expedite region-wide recovery.

Foundation President and CEO Andrew Walker said, “This project is crucial to the health of Florida Bay and the entire Florida Keys. The sponge loss is alarming, and best practices are needed to help restore the health of the community. This work will not only benefit the Florida Bay ecosystem, but all Floridians.”

Grant funding came from the “Conserve Wildlife” specialty license plate fund managed by Foundation. The Foundation has raised and given away more than $32 million to support conservation, fishing, hunting and outdoor education for children, adolescents and adults. The Foundation recently completed a contest with Ringling College of Art & Design to redesign the plate in the hopes of increasing sales, and thus increased grant funding.

About the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida

The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and other public and private partners to conserve Florida’s native animals and plants and the lands and waters they need to survive. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has raised and donated more than $32 million to conservation and outdoor recreation and education. More information can be found at wildlifeflorida.org.

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