The Deep Dive Blog /

Our Year in Review

Thanks to COVID-19, we have deepened our appreciation for the majesty and solace nature offers. With room to socially distance, outdoor spaces provided us with open-air oases in 2021. As the year comes to an end, we want to reflect on how our Foundation, partners, and donors like you helped protect and preserve wild Florida.

2021 began with distressing news as we witnessed an unusual mortality event among Florida’s manatees in the Indian River Lagoon. Through December31, 2021, FWC recorded 1,101 manatee deaths statewide, a large proportion due to malnourishment and starvation in Indian River Lagoon. Our Foundation was humbled by donations totaling over $240,000 from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Coypu Foundation, the Arthur L. & Elaine V. Johnson Foundation, and hundreds of private citizens across the country who banded together to support our marine mammals. Their contributions will help us replenish seven eelgrass beds along tributaries in the Indian River Lagoon where improved water quality will ensure the growth and survival of the plants. The restoration will provide manatees with crucial foraging grounds as well as habitat, food, and oxygen for other aquatic animals in the long term. Our ongoing efforts also support FWC’s unprecedented supplemental feeding trial for manatees at the Temporary Field Response Station in Brevard County to reduce manatee mortality this winter.

Florida’s coral reef took the international stage this year as individuals and organizations across the globe took notice of the stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) ravaging the coral colonies of Florida’s 360-mile Coral Reef. In an effort to save North America’s only coral reef, we joined with SeaWorld, Disney Conservation, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, FWC, and a host of other public and private organizations to create the largest facility of its kind in the U.S.: a warehouse to provide a safe, stable environment for coral colonies to receive world-class care from a team of experts. The Orlando-based facility houses a collection of coral species susceptible to SCTLD. Its staff has successfully bred resistant corals that have maximum genetic diversity to replant Florida’s reef. This exciting work will secure the future of one of the most invaluable ecosystems on the planet. 

Countless other projects were funded this year, including research on feline leukomyelopathy, a debilitating neuromuscular disorder affecting Florida’s bobcats and panthers, combating invasive species like the Burmese python of south Florida, and the captive breeding and release program for the critically endangered Florida grasshopper sparrow. As we look ahead to 2022, we are reminded of the generosity and dedication of our supporters and partners. Thank you to every single person involved in saving wild Florida, you are a force for nature! 

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Protecting wild Florida begins with you. From Pensacola Bay to Key West, our Foundation is working to protect Florida’s natural lands and waters and the wildlife they harbor.

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