In Key West, we take the preservation of our coral reef very seriously. We delight and take pride in sharing this natural treasure and unique ecosystem with locals and visitors alike. It is always a thrill to jump into the crystal blue ocean seven miles offshore and get lost in the marine life in the underwater world. Snorkelers emerge from the water full of excitement from spying amazing creatures swimming around in the coral.
MOTE Marine Laboratory has been advancing the science of the sea since 1955, and the heart of its mission is to educate the public about the health and science of our ocean’s ecosystem. Florida is home to the only barrier reef in North America, and it is a critical habitat for more than 150 species of fish. Nearly one third of the world’s coral reef has been destroyed by disease and, if something isn’t done now, then in thirty years another third will be lost. The coral reef is such a beautiful and important phenomenon that has enriched our lives, and we want it to be around for generations to come.
MOTE has established a coral reef genetic bank to help repopulate damaged corals and is applying microbiology technologies to learn more about reef diseases. If you’re a Florida resident, you can purchase a Protect Our Reefs license plate to fund grants to organizations around the state currently conducting coral reef research, education and conservation initiatives. Key West watersports companies have also partnered with MOTE to donate a portion of each snorkeling trip sold to continue their extensive coral reef restoration project.