So, what does the reef aquarium hobby and coral reef restoration efforts have in common? A lot more than you would think! That’s right, many of the innovations from the marine aquarium hobby have improved coral reef restoration efforts. In fact, our friends over at The Reef Institute are implementing many of the techniques that we use in the hobby to help save coral reefs.
We are all familiar that choosing captive-bred fish and coral for our reef tanks, reduces the demand for wild-caught specimens. This in turn helps to protect natural coral reefs from overfishing and destruction. In this article, we are going to talk about some of the ways reef keepers can support restoration efforts and what we can all do to help!
What is being done to restore coral reefs?
As hobbyists, we are truly fortunate that we can recreate the magic of the coral reefs inside our homes. It’s crucial to keep in mind, though, that even as we make our hobby a more sustainable one, we still need to respect natural coral reefs. One of the best ways we can do that is to support the organizations that are on the ground and committed to making change.
The Reef Institute is one such organization. They work tirelessly to protect coral reefs around the world, and they have made incredible progress in a short amount of time. One of the ways they’re making a difference is by advocating for hobbyists to choose captive-bred fish and coral. This helps to reduce the demand for wild-caught specimens, which often come from unsustainable sources.
The third largest barrier reef in the world is the Florida Reef Tract (FRT). Over 1,400 different types of marine plants and animals can be found in the FRT. Sadly, the health of Caribbean coral reefs has been deteriorating due to a disease called stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD). It is considered an extinction event because of how widespread and serious the SCTLD infection is.
Coral reef restoration projects are crucial for the survival of coral reefs. Unfortunately, less than 2% of the reef building corals of the Florida Reef Tract have survived the impacts of SCTLD. Thankfully, reef aquarium hobbyists can help with these projects by donating their time and resources.
As coral reef ecosystems around the world face increasing pressure from global climate change, ocean acidification, and other man-made impacts, it has never been more important for hobbyists to get involved in coral reef restoration projects.
How can reef keepers help with restoration projects?
Reef keepers can help support coral reef restoration projects by donating money, time, or equipment. They can also raise awareness about the importance of coral reefs and the threats they face. This can be as easy as following and interacting with these organizations on social media. Sharing information and engaging other people in the community is one of the easiest ways to contribute!
Coral reef restoration projects are crucial for many reasons, but especially since they help to offset some of the damages endured by coral reefs. Many reef keepers don’t know how they can help with these projects. They also might not know this, but their skills as reef keepers and aquarists can be crucial for groups like TRI that house and grow corals in land-based facilities. Here are a few ways that you can get involved:
- Donate money to organizations that are working on coral reef restoration projects.
- Volunteer your time to help with restoration projects.
- Reduce your use of plastics and other pollutants that can harm coral reefs.
- Educate yourself about how you can reduce your impact on coral reefs when keeping reef tanks.
Donating money is often one of the fastest and most effective ways for people to contribute to a cause. There are many organizations that are working on coral reef restoration projects and donating to any of them will help encourage their work. The Reef Institute is one of our favorite groups that could always use financial support. And even if it is just a few dollars a small donation can help groups like TRI keep their lights on.
Volunteering your time is another great way to help with coral reef restoration efforts. There are many opportunities to volunteer both locally and internationally. In the upcoming months, coral rescue projects like the one at TRI will begin scheduling dive trips for securing coral outplants back onto the reefs. Outplant dive trips are very labor-intensive, highly coordinated events that require a lot of resources from organizations, state agencies and volunteers.
If you want to volunteer your time at a coral reef restoration project, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, you need to make sure that you are qualified to do the type of work that is needed at the project. For example, if you want to volunteer on coral outplant dives, you might need to have experience SCUBA diving in open water. As we mentioned above, the unique skillset of aquarists and reef keepers can be valuable in these projects! It’s also important to make sure that you are available when the project needs volunteers. Once a commitment is made to participate on a project, the organization is counting on your support!
Another great way to use reef keeping expertise to help groups like TRI is by offering to chip in supplies for propagation. As we discussed in the article about broadcast spawning, most coral spawning events occur only one night a year. But, if we want to make any progress in the battle to save our reefs, we will need to move more quickly.
To gain the much-needed momentum, our propagation techniques in aquaculture and reef keeping are going to come in handy! Offering coral rescue groups like TRI propagation essentials such as frag tiles, cutters, epoxy, and blades is always appreciated. Just be sure to reach out to the group first and ask if they require certain sizes or materials.
Lastly and most importantly, you need to make sure that you are familiar with the regulations governing work at the project site. Florida’s coral reefs are highly regulated and protected due to their extreme vulnerability. It is crucial that volunteers take the time to learn proper procedures and regulations to help support the work of organizations like TRI.
What can we do at home to help?
Reducing your use of plastics and other pollutants is another important way you can help protect coral reefs. Plastics and other pollutants can harm coral reefs by clogging their tissues and making them more susceptible to disease. You can reduce your impact on coral reefs by making simple changes such as using reusable water bottles and shopping bags, choosing sustainable seafood, and properly disposing of pharmaceuticals and other household chemicals.
Educating yourself about how you can reduce your impact on coral reefs when keeping reef tanks is also important. Some things we can do include choosing captive-bred fish and coral and buying from sustainable aquaculture farms. Whenever possible, using natural filtration methods instead of mechanical and chemical filters helps reduce the resources needed to maintain the reef tank.
Following these simple tips will help make your reef tank more sustainable and pose no impacts to nearby coral reefs. Not only does this benefit our own tanks, but it also sets a good example for other hobbyists to follow. By working together, we can make a real difference in the goal to protect coral reefs around the world.
By choosing captive-bred fish, coral, and inverts, we can eliminate the need for wild-collection. This in turn aids in preventing overfishing and the loss of natural coral reefs. Not only does it benefit our own tanks, but it also sets a good example for other reef keepers to follow. Reef keepers can also contribute their time and donate to support coral reef restoration initiatives like TRI.
As reef keepers, we are aware that we can effect genuine change by developing a more sustainable hobby. And if we’re going to accomplish it, teamwork is a must! This is why AlgaeBarn supports organizations like TRI. By working together, we can make a real difference in the fight to protect coral reefs around the world.
Drop a comment below to share your ideas on what we can do to help groups like TRI!