Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s address the elephant in the room -Coral reefs are being heavily impacted by many threats. Why should we be putting time and energy into building new reefs? Great question!
Several prominent environmental organizations have done the research and support reef restoration projects. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has a Mission: Iconic Reefs project to restore reefs in the Florida keys. They also have the Coral Reef Conservation Program.
The Nature Conservancy also runs a Reef Resilience network, which works to protect coral reefs and build the most resilient reefs possible.
A large common theme between these – resilience! Creating resilient reefs is the best bet at creating long lasting reefs. Resilient reefs should have three main things-
1.Diversity and functional redundancy: Diversity means having many types of species, and functional redundancy means having multiple species perform the same roles in an ecosystem.
2.Recruitment: This includes placing hearty species in the reef, which is largely done through seed banks/sperm banks to preserve genetic diversity and grow strong strains of coral, which can develop in safe environments and placed in reefs when they are hearty
3. Herbivory: Herbivorous fish eat microalgae that can be harmful to coral, thus meaning these fish and coral have an important relationship.
With all that being said, there is no way to be 100% certain that reefs we are establishing will be there in 100 or 1,000 years. Changes need to be happening with climate change policy, carbon emission reduction, and legislation in addition to on the ground restoration projects.
With such prominent organizations such as TNC and NOAA also investing in this and seeing it is worth doing, you can feel confident in the commitment to establishing new reefs, which can spark larger changes down the road.
Frequently Asked Questions
- If all the corals are dying, why will the ones you grow and transplant survive?
Coral species in nature build up large pools of genetic diversity over time. Having lots of genetic diversity as a species can increase resilience, helping species to overcome stressful events. By maintaining seed banks, we are able to preserve more genetic diversity that is found in sexual reproduction of corals.
By planting resilient strains of coral, we are contributing to creating a genetically diverse ecosystem of coral that is more likely to survive than corals produced asexually with less genetic diversity.
With proper care, reef restoration can lead to thriving and successful ecosystems. Growing healthy coral, removing threats and invasive species, and careful monitoring, these corals will be able to grow into healthy coral reef ecosystems. In conjunction with restoring reefs, other actions to prevent coral reef loss such as combating pollution and climate change should be underway.
- Does it matter if we lose the coral? Are the reefs really that important?
This is like asking if it really matters if all your teeth fall out.
Coral reefs are responsible for providing shoreline protection, income, and a source of food for one fourth of the World’s population. Coral reefs have an economic value estimated at over $300 billion every year and growing. These reefs do an amazing job at providing natural disaster protection. They are capable of absorbing over 90% of storm generated wave energy helping to prevent mass destruction of land and property. The marine ecosystem, of which corals are a crucial element, is responsible for over 60 percent of the oxygen produced in our atmosphere. Over one -fourth of existing marine life depends on reef systems for habitat and subsistence.
With the ever-increasing impacts of climate change, it is essential to take action to protect vital ecosystems such as coral reefs. The planet evolves and changes over time but the mechanisms necessary to achieve a balance that allows life to exist in harmony with the greater ecosystem should always be considered and protected.
- “I’m not worried. Science and technology will take care of it.”
Ask the people of Chernobyl or the Carteret Islands, or Gilman, Colorado or Three Gorges, China how that attitude is working out for them.
There is no foundation, university, or government that can (or will) rise to make the changes necessary for the restoration of balance. Your support for active organizations who are making meaningful change can make a huge difference in the planet’s future. For instance, your ten-dollar latte could alternatively support a half-day of wages for the average environmental indigenous-worker. A small monthly contribution turns the tide for increased economic power within the community, and also helps CCRC make a difference in the health of our oceans.
- Does this qualify as a global grant?
Although this project could qualify for Rotary Global Grant status, this campaign is designed to give Rotary Clubs a way to spotlight their individual efforts in combining with Clubs worldwide to create fisheries habitat recovery and substrate bases for Coral Restoration in a proven program developed in Panama.
- Why should we be restoring reefs if the oceans are still getting warmer?
Corals are some of the most diversified and adaptable animal species on the planet, Given time, they will (and ancient history confirms) adapt. Their problem is that we have not given them the millenniums that it would take for them to recover naturally. Through science and technology, we are currently able to assist the critical corals in being able to exchange adaptive traits that will allow them to survive in meaningful numbers. What this means is that potentially the entire marine ecosystem won’t have to do a restart. If we don’t begin immediately to change the way we perceive and expend the resources of this planet, it may well be that the future will hold a major ecological restart for land, sea and air. The coral are, quite literally, the canary in the cage.
A question like this has the connotation of resignation, apathy or skepticism embedded in its premise. For me the question when I realized the ramifications of the undeniable truths exposed to us at every turn, was one of Hope. My question was “How can I help?”
We need that question to echo 8 billion times before the last human thought becomes one of regret.
For more information on coral reef restoration, go to: https://loveforthesea.com
ms in South and North America.
We began designing Rotary Reefs at the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic when our President, Steve Bender, was stranded on a Rotary Club Project in Bocas del Toro, Panama because the international airport in Panama City closed.
A PADI “Master Diver”, Steve noticed the absence of fish and live coral while snorkeling. After learning about the impacts of disease and climate change on coral reef ecosystems, Steve knew that action had to be taken fast.
He contacted the head of the Caribbean Coral Restoration Center, Doug Marcy, and shared his ideas of creating Rotary Reefs- artificial reef structures that could be planted with coral to restore coral ecosystems.
The two met and Steve was so impressed with Doug’s passion. He decided that this would be the perfect partnership and club project for the 2022-2023 Rotary Year and beyond!
They quickly started formulating designs and plans, then created three mini “Rotary Reefs” to study and have a proof of concept.
Since then, Rotary Clubs from across the continent have been sponsoring their own reefs to help restore reef coral ecosystems to create habitat and slow the impacts of climate change.