Forty years ago, North Carysfort Reef, near Key Largo, was a model of a healthy reef ecosystem and abundant coral growth. Since then, however, it has lost 99% of its coral cover. The Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF), a Florida nonprofit organization, has refined coral-growing and transplanting techniques over the last decade. It is now successfully propagating corals in local nurseries and planting them to the reef.
Seacology’s grant will help finance CRF’s five-year plan to replant North Carysfort Reef. The project seeks to restore two critical reef-building corals, staghorn and elkhorn, to the levels of 50 years ago in terms of density, area covered, and historical proportions. The first stage of the project will create an easily accessible example of what the restored reef will look like. Later, CRF will replant more of the reef. The ultimate goal is to create a self-sufficient reef with spawning coral, and an international model of reef restoration.