Coral Restoration in the Florida Keys
One afternoon in Key Largo, Florida, aquarist Ken Nedimyer began helping his daughter Kelly with a 4-H project. Living on an island prevented them from raising a cow and taking it to the county fair so, naturally, they decided to raise coral instead.
The Florida Keys are home to the third largest coral barrier reef system in the world, including over 1,700 species of mollusks, 500 species of fish, more than 100 species of coral and five species of sea turtles. Human-related factors including population growth, lack of sewage treatment, overfishing and pollution as well as elevated surface temperatures due to climate change have caused the reefs in the Keys and the Caribbean to deplete rapidly.
Originally, Nedimyer and his daughter planned to sell their corals to the marine aquarium industry, but while preparing the first batch they had an idea: plant some of the coral on a local reef to see if it would grow. Usual concerns about putting a cultured animal back in the wild wouldn’t be an issue because the nursery where they were growing coral—three miles offshore—was already right there beside the reef.
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