By Marybel Rodriguez

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Earth Day, which is officially marked on April 22, is about saving the environment and that includes our oceans.

Water makes up about 71% of the Earth’s surface and life underwater is crucial for our survival.

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That’s why the University of Miami, Nova Southeastern University, and The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science have teamed up to help restore coral reefs off the South Florida coast.

“We are using different approaches, using multiple techniques, using asexual production of corals in nurseries asexual reproduction of corals of coral larvee that are spawned, collected and restoring populations specifically the long spine sea urchin,” explained Dr. Diego Lirman, from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

The team effort led to a project with the NFL in February of 2020 where they laid down one hundred yards of corals. The program is called 100 Yards Of Hope.

“We are seeing significant improvements. We are able to increase abundance in corals. We see fish use the habitat and we are seeing local impacts as divers will see the impact on our local reefs,” said Dr. Lirman.

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UM is expanding its reach to people who want to help with coral reef restoration with its Rescue a Reef program.  They have monthly trips where members of the public who can snorkel or dive can join the expeditions.

The impact of coral reef restoration is felt throughout South Florida.

“We need these healthy reefs. We need the services that these healthy reefs provide for our shorelines. They provide the first line of defense in coastal flooding, fisheries, tourism. We need these healthy reefs to sustain our economy,” said Dr. Lirman.

The reefs span from North Miami Beach to  Key Largo.

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If you want to help out, click here to visit the Rescue a Reef program website.

Marybel Rodriguez