For seven years, two veterinarians have been improving ocean health while teaching students to care about their coastline.
Who They Are
The Reef Institute was founded in 2015 by two veterinarians and named Healthy Aquatics Marine Institute of Florida. These two veterinarians had a goal of improving ocean health while teaching students to care about their environment. Coral Reef Conservation through education, research, and restoration became their motto.
In 2018 Healthy Aquatics upgraded its name and identity to The Reef Institute and moved the organization towards a mission of coral conservation through education, research, and restoration. It was also during this time that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Stewardship Continuum was adopted for all programming, making The Reef Institute’s efforts effective and sustainable.
Vision and Impact
The Reef Institute knows that saving the coral means saving the coast. The ultimate goal is to protect the coast and to save the ocean. Today research and education work in partnership to both grow better stewards of the ocean while taking a distinct action to save our seas.
Staff scientists direct the research department in endeavors to work toward the protection and growth of Caribbean Coral in the North Florida Reef Tract. The education department has grown from humble beginnings of reaching a few hundred field-trip students, to reaching almost 9,000 students annually.
The Florida Reef Tract (FRT) is the largest coral reef ecosystem in the continental US. Its extensive shallow coral reefs span roughly 360 miles from the Dry Tortugas near Key West to the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County. It is estimated that more than 1,400 DIFFERENT species of marine plants and animals, including more than 40 species of stony corals and 500 species of fish live on the Florida reefs.
Unfortunately, Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) has now spread over the entire Florida reef system, but The Reef Institute is part of the collaboration with government agencies, research labs, and public aquariums to mitigate the tragic effects of SCTLD and be ready to rebuild the reefs in the future.
Upcoming & Recent Events
The Reef Institute strives to provide high-quality marine science programs to schools, camps, and education groups worldwide. They are also a part of the Florida Coral Rescue Project, a network of some of the most renowned coral research and holding facilities in the country.
Their offerings include 3 different Education Excursions with all-in-one experiences. These one-of-a-kind field trips include exposure to the ocean, close-up encounters with marine life, science experiments on the beach, hands-on ecology lessons, and more. Locations you can choose from including Dubois Park, Peanut Island & John D. Macarthur Beach State Park. Click here to learn more about Education Excursions.
Looking for something a little more adventurous? Book a snorkel tour with their reef experts at Peanut Island. This unforgettable experience includes coral identification, coral disease study, coastal Florida ecology, and more.
How You Can Get Involved
> Save the Coral. Save the Coast. To donate, please Click Here. Every dollar donated goes directly to supporting the fight against Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease.
> Shop original apparel to look stylish while also helping to save our coasts. Take a peek at the current offerings by Clicking This Link.
> Interested in helping them save the ocean? Follow this link to find out more about volunteer and intern positions.