The "Coral Restoration Foundation", an NGO based in Key Largo, raises coral in nurseries with a view to implanting them in Florida's coral reefs.
Coral reefs have been suffering badly over the past forty years. Overfishing, coastal development, ocean warming and acidification, intensive tourism, hurricanes and tsunamis have all contributed to weaken the delicate marine ecosystem and have strongly affected coral reproduction. Given that coral is essential for maintaining a healthy sea and that it plays a crucial role in the protection and development of hundreds of species of animals and plants, many initiatives have sprung up around the world, aiming to save, protect and repopulate coral reefs, the lungs of the ocean.
One such initiative is the PVC "tree" launched by American NGO Coral Restoration Foundation which has paid off in the ten years since its inception and which has since been emulated around the world.
Although it may look like a small rock, coral is animal that can be pruned like a plant: in an underwater nursery, small fragments of living coral are suspended on PVC tube frames that resemble trees. When the cuttings reach a sufficient size, they are removed from the nursery and taken to degraded coral reefs where they are planted on a natural substrate, a rock or other surface. They can then continue to grow and regenerate the oceans.
The Foundation currently has 500 artificial "trees" off the coast of Florida which it uses to grow between 40 and 50,000 corals simultaneously.