Florida Keys News
Saturday, April 6, 2013
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Fury donates to coral cause
Mote gets help to rebuild reefs

Fury Water Adventures is donating a portion of its ticket sales to Mote Marine Laboratories for coral research.

The Key West watersports operator is giving 50 cents from every reef snorkeling trip to Mote, Fury owner Scott Saunders said.

Fury operates six reef trips a day.

"This is what I and other watersports operators should be doing," Saunders said.

"I hope other businesses will do the same ... if we all start doing this, it can make a difference. Funding from the federal and state government is shrinking."

Saunders picked Mote because of its work growing coral and restoring coral reefs. Mote has established a coral nursery off Looe Key and is replanting baby corals on a reef near the nursery.

Mote scientists have grown more than 3,000 juvenile staghorn corals in the nursery and replanted hundreds of corals back onto the reef.

"We need to save our coral reefs," Saunders said. "Mote has proven that the science is working, and they can grow coral. We need to do something to stop the degradation."

Staghorn and elkhorn corals were listed as threatened on the federal endangered species list in 2005. The coral populations have declined by up to 98 percent throughout their range, which include the Keys.

Keys populations dropped dramatically since a diadema urchin die-off in the mid 1990s.

"Our coral reefs are the foundation of health for our oceans as well as for our economy and life in the Keys," said Jason Wolf, Protect Our Reefs program manager for Mote.

"So much depends on healthy reefs, and we've lost more than 90 percent of our indigenous coral coverage in the last 40 years ... clearly that can't continue if we want our oceans to survive.

"We've discovered new, cutting-edge ways to restore Florida's reefs."

Wolf called the Fury organization an "amazing" partner in funding coral reef restoration work.

"This new donation program is an incredible gesture of generosity, as well as Fury leading by example for what we consider to be a new age in environmentally positive conservation practices for businesses that use our marine resources," he said.

tohara@keysnews.com

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