Mote scientist recognized by U.S. Coral Reef Task Force

On Aug. 11, 2017, Mote Marine Laboratory Senior Scientist Dr. David Vaughan was recognized by the United States Coral Reef Task Force for his significant contributions in improving coral restoration techniques and educating a new generation of scientists. Dr. Vaughan most notably pioneered implementation of coral fragmentation techniques to re-skin massive coral species for reef restoration. 

“It is an honor to be recognized for the work that we are doing at Mote,” Vaughan said.  “There is still a lot to be done if we want to restore Florida’s reefs to what they were in the 1960s or ‘70s, but by coupling our restoration efforts with the science of coral resilience and advancing the diversity of other projects we have, I know we can.”

Science-based coral reef restoration is a major priority at Mote, which recently expanded with the completion of the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration (IC2R3) on Summerland Key, Florida. As the Executive Director at IC2R3, Vaughan and his Mote colleagues are working toward his goal of planting 1 million resilient coral fragments before he retires. That goal includes outplanting thousands of corals at the soon-to-be-completed Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West, Florida. This project five coral species, including several that can grow to massive size, and a snorkel trail for the public to enjoy.

The United States Coral Reef Task Force hosted its 38th meeting on Aug. 11, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the reefs are close enough to shore that they can be seen from the beach, truly highlighting the unique proximity of Florida’s reefs to coastal communities. Leaders of 12 federal agencies, seven U.S. states, territories, commonwealths and three freely associated states and supporters for on-the-ground action to conserve coral reefs attended this year’s event which included workshops, a business meeting and recognition ceremony.