The Coral Restoration Foundation

The Aquatic Experience is a proud supporter of the Coral Restoration Foundation and want to give you the opportunity to learn more about them.  Please read this guest blog by Shalimar Moreno, a lead intern at the Coral Restoration Foundation.

The Coral Restoration Foundation is passionate about restoring North America’s only living coral barrier reef and the third largest barrier reef in the world. Coral reefs are one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems that provide habitat and shelter for countless marine organisms. As a nonprofit organization based in Key Largo, Florida, we have made it our mission to restore our precious coral reefs using offshore nurseries to grow endangered coral species.

We have 7 coral nurseries throughout the Florida Keys tract to grow various species of threatened corals using innovative techniques. Our corals are grown on “tree” structures that are suspended in the water column. With this technique, our corals receive constant water flow from all angles, aiding their growth while reducing negative impacts from sediment and algae. When corals grow to roughly the size of your hand they are ready to be planted back onto the reef. Our team works diligently to outplant staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) and elkhorn (Acropora palmata) corals in order to preserve genetic diversity of wild populations. With over 300 genotypes in our nurseries we believe we can move toward a more resilient and healthy reef.

In the Florida Keys and Caribbean, we have lost most of our dominant reef building corals since the late 1970s and early 1980s due to multiple stressors. More recently, Hurricane Irma came through the Florida Keys and has downed trees, hurled debris, and destroyed boats and homes. Coral reefs and other marine ecosystems such as mangroves protect our coastlines from natural disasters like this. Now, more than ever, it is important to conserve and restore our vital ecosystems. This is where Coral Restoration Foundation and our passionate team of volunteers come in.

As an organization, we are heavily dependent upon volunteers to help us carry out our work and we could use your help in saving the coral reefs. We are thankful to be partnered with the aquarium industry and to have individuals that care deeply about corals. It takes time and effort to monitor and care for growing corals in an aquarium and we put this same effort into growing, outplanting and monitoring the corals we place back on the reef. It is a delicate and complex system that has the potential to bounce back.

Coral reefs are the rainforest of the sea. Every day, scientists learn more and more about their beauty and wonder- from discovering new species to advancing applications in medicine. And we at CRF are working harder than ever to continue our operations in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Visit us on our website (www.coralrestoration.org) to support us and learn more about the work we do. As one of the leading organizations focused on coral restoration, we will continue fighting to inspire and to instill hope. We must all work together to protect what we love and care about.

About me:

My name is Shalimar Moreno and I’m currently a lead intern at Coral Restoration Foundation. This means that I have the opportunity to guide and mentor new interns in the many different aspects of the nonprofit world. I’m also able to work under different organizational programs to come up with my own projects, one of which is bringing back blogs in our Coral Chronicles. I hope this was interesting to read- you might see me around in our email newsletter!

Speaker Spotlight: Claus Christensen

Claus Christensen has specialized in planted aquariums for 40 of his 55 years in the hobby, receiving the “Aquarium Oscar”, Scandinavia’s highest award.  Claus has traveled the world visiting water plant habitats bringing new ornamental plants to hobbyists worldwide.  Claus worked for Tropica Aquarium Plants in Denmark, serving as CEO for 6 of his 25 years. He currently works as a travel guide, consultant and writer. He is a highly acclaimed speaker, presenting more than 500 lectures in over 15 countries.

Claus Christensen’s educational session at the Aquatic Experience is “Aquatic Plants in Nature and Culture.”  In this session, Claus will provide descriptions and photos of natural habitats for aquarium plants.  He will present his studies from his many years of experience through his work both in natural settings and aquariums and advice on plant care.

Speaker Spotlight: Heiko Bleher

Heiko Bleher’s lectures and seminars take him around the world to deliver talks to aquarium enthusiasts. He specializes in biotope aquariums, aquascaping and fish judging. Each year he edits numerous publications including the International Journal of Ichthyology and DISCUSBOOK, a magazine dedicated to the Amazon region.  Bleher travels yearly to the Amazon region and provides updates on ornamental Discus fish.

Heiko Bleher’s educational sessions at the Aquatic Experience include:

  • Lost Aquatic Habitats Around the World- Two Decades of Proof” – A shocking look at aquatics habitats around the world and the dramatic changes that have occurred over the past 20 years. What the ramifications for the aquatics industry are and pathways to future success.
  • “New Discoveries from West Papua, Iran, Argentina, Vietnam, Laos and Palau” – In this session Heiko will showcase new Rainbowfishes, Blue-eyes, gobies, cichlids, tetras, loaches and underwater plants from his latest expeditions.

Speaker Spotlight: Timothy Miller-Morgan, DVM

Timothy Miller-Morgan, DVM is an aquatic veterinarian, educator and biologist. He directs the Aquatic Animal Health Program at Oregon State University. “Dr. Tim” has consulted and taught extensively on fish and invertebrate health issues, primarily related to aquarium fish, throughout North and South America, Asia and Europe. His work focuses on the identification, development and training of animal husbandry and health management practices that improve animal health and quality.

Dr. Tim’s educational sessions at the Aquatic Experience include:

  • Friday Fish Health Management Course – “The Aquatic Environment: Biological, Chemical and Physical Factors and their Interactions in Nature and in Closed Systems” – Achieving successfully functioning aquatic systems requires a basic understanding of the complexity and interplay among various physical, chemical and biological processes. This lecture covers various topics including biological, chemical and mechanical filtration methods, water chemistry, chemical interactions, water additives, role of the filter bacteria and other organisms, and essential components needed to set up properly functioning systems.
  • Friday Fish Health Management Course – “Anatomy and Physiology of Fishes” – This presentation reviews the basic anatomy of fish as well as an introduction to fish physiology and how fish utilize various physical and chemical mechanisms to function in their environment. Topics include a review of sensory receptors, chemoreception, digestion, osmoregulation, respiration, excretion, immune system functions and the stress response.
  • What Makes my Fish Tick When They are Sick – How a Fish Defends Itself from Disease and What Happens When it gets Sick” – Aquarium fish get sick, it is a fact of aquarium keeping. As conscientious hobbyists we should strive to understand the basics of fish biology as it pertains to fish health. Such understanding helps us become better fish keepers. In this talk I will discuss some of the amazing mechanisms fish have developed to avoid disease and how these protections can fail and lead to disease. Finally, I’ll discuss some of the common husbandry activities that can predispose fish to illness and those that will prevent disease among your aquarium fish.

Speaker Spotlight: Greg Lewbart

Greg is a Professor of Aquatic Animal Medicine at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. He is a diplomate of the American and European Colleges of Zoological Medicine and an author on over 100 scientific articles, four books, and approximately 25 book chapters about invertebrates, fishes, amphibians and reptiles.

George Lewbart’s educational sessions at the Aquatic Experience include:

Friday Fish Health Management Course – “Principal Diseases of Freshwater and Marine Fish”  This lecture will cover the principal infectious diseases of freshwater and marine fish.  Topics will include how to prevent the development and introduction of diseases to aquatic systems, role of quarantine, learning how to recognize the signs of various diseases prior to initiating chemical treatments and use of a microscope to identify disease organisms.

Friday Fish Health Management Course – “Chemotherapeutic Approaches for the control of Fish Diseases”  This presentation covers the proper selection and use of various chemotherapeutics for the treatment of various fish diseases. Topics included selection the appropriate medication, various dosing routes including bath, dips, oral and injection; treatment dosage calculations, treatment frequency, and safety guidelines for use of medications.