Mote Marine Laboratory has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation to support Mote’s efforts in restoring the rapidly declining reef habitats within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
The goals for the grant include microfragmenting coral in Mote’s inland coral nursery on Summerland Key to support outplanting efforts, continuing genetic testing of coral to measure resiliency for future ocean conditions, and training international researchers in reef restoration. The efforts will ultimately support Mote’s overall efforts to outplant a minimum of 25,000 corals in the coming year.
“This grant builds on the Barancik Foundation’s last grant, which helped Mote to construct its new state-of-the-art facility in the Florida Keys,” shared Teri A Hansen, president and CEO of the Barancik Foundation. “Our foundation believes in supporting efforts that will make a lasting impact for the environment. Investing in Mote’s research and restoration efforts will do just that.”
The Barancik created the foundation in 2014 in Sarasota, home to Mote’s headquarters. It creates initiatives and awards grants for education, humanitarian causes, arts and culture, the environment and medical research
Coral reefs around the world provide habitat to more than 1 million species of plants and animals, are a source of food for millions and a resource for potential new medicines. Florida’s reef tract also protects shorelines from major storms and sustains tourism by attracting more than 16 million visitors a year and 71,000 jobs, providing an economic engine worth $6.3 billion to Florida alone, Mote says.
During the last 40 years, Florida’s corals have declined in many areas by more than 90 percent, with some species losing more than 97 percent of their populations and becoming listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Threats include increased water temperature, ocean acidification and spreading diseases.
At Mote’s Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration on Summerland, Mote scientists raise and study more than 20 species of hard corals, using fragments “rescued” by the sanctuary following boat groundings and other disturbances. Mote’s facility maintains optimal light and water chemistry to produce thousands of coral fragments for reef restoration and conduct studies to determine optimal restoration for the warmer, more acidic oceans expected in our future.