By FloridaKeysNewsBureau For EyesOnNews.com, June 9, 2015 – KEY LARGO, Florida Keys — In recognition of World Oceans Day, the Florida Keys-based Coral Restoration Foundation staged its first-ever “Plantapalooza” Monday during which CRF staff, interns, board members and volunteers planted 1,600 reef-building staghorn corals in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Some 70 divers sowed corals at six Upper Keys sites including Molasses Reef, Carysfort Reef, Grecian Rocks, Little Conch Reef, Snapper Ledge and Pickles Reef.
“It’s really important to to get the corals out there in large amounts, but it’s also important because we’re involving a lot of the community,” said Kayla Ripple, CRF’s coral nursery program manager.
Staghorn corals are threatened, but CRF has had good success in cultivating and planting new staghorns where the species has died.
The pinky-size coral fragments grow in a designated nursery about three miles off the Keys. The infant corals, about three inches long, are hung on a framework of PVC pipe resembling a tree to develop. After nine months, the staghorns typically reach the size of a dinner plate and are transported to offshore reefs where they are affixed to the sea floor with epoxy.
“Plantapalooza” aimed to raise awareness of World Oceans Day, celebrated internationally each year, and the importance of the restoration, preservation and conservation of the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef, located in the Florida Keys.
This year’s WOD theme is “Healthy Ocean, Healthy Planet,” a philosophy the nonprofit CRF fulfills through its unprecedented restoration efforts for Florida Keys coral reefs.
Since CRF’s inception in 2000 has planted some 31,500 corals on upper and middle Keys reefs.
The 1,600 plantings Monday was the organization’s most prolific output in a single day, foundation officials said.