Mote scientist vows to plant one million coral

Dr. David Vaughan, Executive Director of Mote Marine Laboratory’s research facility in the Florida Keys, along with other Mote scientists, are leading efforts to understand why coral reefs are declining and how to bring them back in this lifetime. Mote raises thousands of fragments of staghorn coral, a threatened species, and plants them into the wild in cooperation with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Mote scientists are studying these coral fragments to find strains most likely to survive changing ocean conditions.

Mote scientists have also developed a new technique for quickly growing and restoring brain, boulder and star corals; crucial reef-building species. Mote’s technique allows for restoring large areas of reef-building corals in just one or two years instead of the hundreds of years that some slow-growing corals might need on their own.

Not only does Vaughan oversee the day-to-day operations at Mote’s Summerland Key facility and manage the Coral Reef Restoration Program at Mote, but he also has pledged not to retire until he replants one million corals back onto the reef.

Vaughan, age 63, was recently highlighted in AARP’s #DisruptAging campaign, which focuses on replacing negative stereotypes that exist about aging with a positive representation of what aging has come to mean.

In keeping with Vaughan’s goal, Mote recently began a new collaboration with The Nature Conservancy to restore corals at unprecedented scales throughout the Caribbean and Florida Keys. Vaughan’s ambitious goal before retiring is why he was recently highlighted in AARP’s #DisruptAging campaign.

Mote has also launched an online fundraising project to raise awareness of the vital importance of restoring coral reefs. Donations to Mote’s project “Restoring Coral Reefs in this Lifetime,” will help the Lab restore one acre of coral reef for $10,000, which is just $10 per coral.


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