Category Archives: Florida

Volunteering for Coral Reefs

P1000689(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

There are some mixed and unconfirmed reports this morning about a possible oil spill in the Great Barrier Reef. Hopefully, it won’t turn out to be a major spill that’s devastating to the Reef. Coral reefs are just one of the many types of fragile ecosystems that need so much protection and preservation, especially in our overdeveloped and continuously developing, and changing, world. So, this morning, a few stories about how some people are volunteering to help out reefs in their area. In Australia, a group called UniDive has won the 2015 Healthy Waterways award for their work as citizen scientists. In over 500 dives, the divers collected large amounts of invaluable data on the local reefs and their diverse ecosystems. In the Caymans, a filmmaker has volunteered his time to make a documentary film about a threatened local reef. The film may go a long way toward educating people about a reef in the area where a cruise ship berthing facility is proposed.  And in Florida, wounded and disabled veterans are helping to restore coral along the coast. The veterans are working with the organization Diveheart and Nova Southeastern University to rehabilitate and restore coral heavily damaged by many factors, including pollution and boats.

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Volunteers as Oyster Gardeners

ID-100154534(Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

by Robert Barossi

Oysters are not just for making pearls and eating at raw bars. As the National Oceanic and  Atmospheric Administration points out on their page about oyster reefs in Chesapeake Bay, “Oysters are filter feeders, consuming phytoplankton (free-swimming algae) and improving water quality while they filter their food from the water. As generations of oysters settle on top of each other and grow, they form reefs that provide structured habitat for many fish species and crabs.”

These oyster reefs are also highly susceptible to pollution, reduced water quality and increased runoff. These and other factors can lead to the decline of oyster populations and the destruction of oyster reefs. Today’s story, out of Florida, describes how volunteers are helping to bring back oyster reefs which have seriously declined over time. Volunteers in the area have been growing oysters which are part of an oyster reef pilot program. If the program works and the oysters begin to clean the water, more reefs will be created in other locations. As the article mentions, the “oyster gardening” program could have wide-ranging and long-lasting effects, thanks in large part to the dedicated volunteers.

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Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day

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