About Us2023-09-19T19:05:24+00:00

About Rotary Reefs

The Rotary Reefs project is part of the Rotary Club of Newport’s Beach’s 30-year plan to help save our planet.

We wanted to develop programs other Rotary Clubs could participate in or replicate and Panama is a perfect location to launch programs 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.


The Rotary Reefs Project was presented at EarthX, the largest environmental convention in the world. Here is was supported by Mark Maloney, the 2019-2020 President of Rotary International. This picture to the right shows Mark Maloney and our Rotary Reefs team in Dallas, Texas in April 2023.

The Rotary Club of Newport Beach is proud to have won 2nd place in the world in Rotary International  “I Fix the Planet” competition for Rotary Reefs.

We would also like to recognize the 6000 Rotarians worldwide that participated in the project. We have decided to share the $500 Euro Prize money with our Strategic Partners that are doing great things to help support the “Rotary Reefs” project:

Caribbean Reef Restoration (CRR)- CCR’s mission requires that they address the concept of coral reef recovery through a holistic lens. Ocean ecosystems include the management and protection of resources, the quality of life for the plant, animal and human species that live within that ecosystem.

Carolyn Covak– Educating Youth Marine Biologist

Mother of Coral-  Mother of Corals is a nonprofit organization that teaches coastal communities how to restore reefs to promote local economic and ecological sustainability. Kristen Shue and Bocas Mariculture S.A.

Till Deuss- Biologist: Deuss is involved with The Lionfish ProjectWasteless World,and Bocas Mariculture