Mote Marine Laboratory is pleased to announce that over $400,000 has been awarded from this year’s Protect Our Reefs (POR) License Plate Grant Program. Sales of the POR specialty license plate provides funds that are administered by Mote to support new and ongoing Florida Coral Reef research, restoration, and education projects. During the past 20+ years, the Mote POR Grant Program has awarded over $7 million for more than 300 projects conducted by dozens of Florida-based organizations, and has allowed Mote to partner with over 100 institutions from around world to help restore Florida’s Coral Reef.

“We are profoundly grateful to every Florida driver who chooses to support Mote’s coral reef research and restoration efforts by purchasing a Protect Our Reefs license plate,” said Dr. Michael P. Crosby, President & CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory. “Together, we are making a tangible difference in restoring and conserving our state’s unparalleled marine beauty by safeguarding the health of our rainforests of the sea for generations to come.”

Florida’s Coral Reef, the only barrier reef in the continental United States, stretches more than 350 miles up the coast, providing an important ecological and economic benefit for Florida. Besides protecting Florida’s coastline from storms, reefs also provide shelter, food, and breeding grounds for over 6,000 species of marine life. Further, according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Florida’s coral reefs hold an asset value of $8.5 billion, contributing to $4.4 billion in local sales, $2 billion in local income, and provide employment for 70,400 individuals in both full-time and part-time positions.

Unfortunately, Florida’s coral reefs face many challenges. The reefs have steadily declined over the past 40+ years, with some reefs losing over 90 percent of their coral cover due to many complex and compounding factors, including ocean acidification, rising temperatures, pollution, coral disease, and more.

The 2024-25 Protect Our Reefs Grant projects aim to address these challenges by researching mitigation strategies, habitat stressors, and ecosystem restoration efforts, and by providing funding for coral education and outreach. This year’s awardees include the University of North Florida, Eckerd College, and Islamorada Conservation and Restoration Education to name a few. The research gathered from these innovative projects will inform and improve numerous collaborative ongoing restoration efforts.

“By standing united in our commitment to coral reef conservation, we can combat the multifaceted threats that have plagued these vital ecosystems for decades,” said Kevin Claridge, Vice President for Sponsored Research & Coastal Policy Programs at Mote Marine Laboratory. “Each purchase of a Protect Our Reefs license plate directly fuels our mission to understand and reverse the decline of coral populations, ensuring a brighter future for Florida’s underwater ecosystems.”

Get Your Tag!

If you’re a Florida driver, you can help make coral reef restoration and conservation happen by purchasing a Protect Our Reefs specialty license plate for your car, truck, or boat trailer. Drive the plate that helps fund the restoration of our coral reefs, and you’ll be helping preserve Florida’s unique underwater beauty while securing the future for our oceans!

For each Protect Our Reefs license plate sold, Mote’s Protect Our Reefs program receives a direct $25 annual donation. This donation funding goes straight to the restoration and research of our coral reefs so the more plates that are sold, the faster we can restore our coral reefs.

You can purchase the plate here!

About the Protect Our Reefs Specialty License Plate Grants Program

There is significant concern for the health of Florida’s Coral Reef, particularly in the face of recent natural disasters, disease, ocean acidification, and changes in water temperatures. The scientific community considers coral reefs around the world to be threatened and those of Florida to be at great risk. In addition to their environmental and biological importance, Florida’s reefs also contribute considerably to the State’s economy.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggests that coral reefs in southeast Florida have an asset value of $8.5 billion, generating $4.4 billion in local sales, $2 billion in local income, and over 70,000 jobs. Coral reefs are not only a major economic driver, but a foundation of history, culture, and resiliency of Southeast Florida and the Florida Keys. Yet funding to help utilize the best available science and technology to restore and maintain the vitality of this critical ecosystem is limited.

Mote Marine Laboratory has been successfully leading the “Protect Our Reefs” (POR) specialty license plate for over 20 years to help supplement traditional coral reef research and restoration funding sources. Mote makes a substantial proportion of the proceeds from the sale of these plates available through POR grants to build partnerships that support research, education (and outreach), and conservation efforts focused on the restoration and sustainable use of Florida’s coral reefs. Over the past 20+ years of the POR Grant Program, Mote has received and reviewed over 500 proposals and grants have been awarded to more than 300 projects totaling over $7 million.

The Grants Program uses the dollars raised from plate sales for:

  • Scientific research to uncover the reasons for coral declines
  • The development of new methods to restore coral reefs
  • Education and outreach programs to help the public understand the threats that reefs face and how they can help

Organizations may apply for grant funds to support their Florida-based coral research. For more information visit