Major Coral Restoration in Florida Keys
NOAA and partners are beginning a three-year effort to outplant more than 60,000 fragments of nursery-raised coral at Eastern Dry Rocks Sanctuary Preservation Area off the coast of Key West, Florida. This is the first large-scale endeavor dedicated to Mission: Iconic Reefs, the unprecedented effort to restore seven coral reefs within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Eastern Dry Rocks contains a concentration of bank reef habitats that are ecologically and economically important to the Florida Keys. The elkhorn and staghorn corals that are being transplanted across more than 9 acres include a high number of distinct genetic strains representing the historical diversity found on these reefs, and genotypes that have exhibited the highest survival and growth rates. Practitioner partners that will assist in the outplanting grew the corals in their respective nurseries over six to eight months.
NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded a $5 million grant through the National Coastal Resilience Fund to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, in partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium and Coral Restoration Foundation to restore Eastern Dry Rocks. The grant is the largest one-time investment since the initiative was announced in December 2019.