The Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation Partners with Reef Worlds to Promote Dynamic Reef Projects

PRLog – Jan. 29, 2015 – WILMINGTON, Del. — The Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) today announced its partnership with Reef Worlds to develop and promote near shore resort reef tourism projects that improve marine habitats. MOSF and Reef Worlds share a common goal of providing tourism-based projects that respect and embrace the local culture, environment and economic welfare of an area.

“MOSF’s focus has always been on the advancement and development of marine conservation and sustainability initiatives,” stated Jennifer Pitzer, MOSF Managing Director. “After numerous discussions it became clear that there are strong synergies between our two organizations. Reef Worlds’ unique approach to dynamic reef development and habitat tourism is a win-win opportunity for marine conservation, local communities and the tourism industry.”

“Our goal is not just to create awareness that coral reefs, specifically near shore reef systems off resorts, are dying and gone, but to try to move the needle resulting in significant regional change,” said Patric Douglas, Reef Worlds CEO.

As defined by the National Geographic Society, geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well being of its residents. MOSF and Reef Worlds are engaging in geotourism projects that encompass key sustainability principles and highlight a destinations geographical character. Projects are designed to emphasize the distinctiveness of the locale and benefit visitors and residents alike.

Using eco-friendly materials designed to be a haven for marine life, Reef Worlds develops Dynamic Reef projects that merge marine science, art and culture. These structures not only draw tourism, but they also alleviate the pressure on existing natural reefs, which are experiencing devastating losses. Due to the unique nature of Reef World designs, tour operators and resort managers quickly realize a return on their investment and attract tourists to their location. Reef World is already engaged in Dynamic Reef development projects in Dubai, Mexico and the Philippines.

MOSF and Reef Worlds will initially focus on key destinations in the Caribbean. The opening of Cuba to U.S. tourism is anticipated to cause a profound shift in Caribbean tourism. While this may be a daunting prospect to tourism operators in the region, there is also an opportunity to differentiate themselves and benefit from the spillover effect of increased traffic. More than ever, today’s tourists not only expect, but also demand, unique and authentic travel experiences. For many, this includes selecting vacation experiences that enable engagement in activities that benefit the environment.

MOSF and Reef Worlds will work with existing and new tourism operators to identify coastal areas and resort operations that will benefit from the development of dynamic reefs. Both organizations will engage with coastal communities, at a grassroots level, to establish solutions that are locally managed, environmentally and economically sustainable, and culturally relevant.

About the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation

Founded in 2013, the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is a Delaware non-profit dedicated to the positive global promotion of successful marine conservation and education initiatives. MOSF researches and documents proven, successful marine conservation projects that balance ocean health and human prosperity. With the support of public and private sector partners, projects are selected for documentation and replication based on a model that evaluates financial feasibility, long-term sustainability, and the use of scientifically sound practices. MOSF engages coastal communities, at a grassroots level, to ensure that project implementations are culturally sensitive, community-driven and receive the support they need to thrive. For additional information, please visit our website at

About Reef Worlds

At the intersection of art, science, and the environment is Reef Worlds. When a unique team of film and television designers, dive site developers, and marine biologists got together they dreamt of a better way to experience the undersea realm the result was Reef Worlds. The global issue of coral reef habitat loss is a real challenge. As a “out of sight, out of mind” conservation problem the challenge is to reengage people with reefs and oceans in a tangible way. Reef Worlds resort based Dynamic Reefs create a sustainable way to educate, inspire, build habitat and revenues that can be used for additional conservation projects like coastal Mangrove rehabilitation. For additional information, please visit our website at

See the actual press release.

Caring for Color: Conserving the World’s Corals

Picture this… an underwater oasis teeming with colorful corals and fish. Sea turtles are masterfully maneuvering through the corals in search of tasty sponges, crabs, and jellyfish. You can spot several sharks swimming peacefully around the reef, paying no mind to you. A shadow falls over you, and you glance up nervously, only to sigh in relief to see a harmless manta ray gracefully glide above you. After the ray passes, you notice that the reef has suddenly and drastically changed. The coral has become white, as if all of the color had been sucked out of it. Silvery specters of the colorful reef fish are now the only inhabitants of this ghost town. There are no more turtles, sharks, or rays in this reef. The reef has become bleached; it’s dead. Although this doesn’t actually happen in the blink of an eye, with rising ocean temperatures and falling pH, it is happening more and more frequently around the world. It’s not a great time for coral reefs, but there are many different ways that we are racing to conserve these “rainforests of the sea,” and many of them are working.

spiegelgroveWhat do shipwrecks and statues have in common? They have both been made into artificial reefs. Contrary to the name, these reefs do not contain fake coral, but real, living, natural coral. The term “artificial reef” comes from the fact that the base the corals attach to is not naturally occurring. Many retired ships have intentionally been sunk in areas where they would serve as the base of a new reef. In fact, this is probably the most common form of artificial reef, whether the shipwrecks were intended for such use or not. There are some more unconventional bases for artificial reefs, as well. We’ve all seen the hauntingly beautiful pictures of statues sunk in shallow locations to create a garden of substrate for corals and sponges to grow on. More recent pictures show that this project has been very successful and the statues are now covered in colorful creatures, attracting fish and tourists.

artificialreefartArtificial reefs often attract visitors interested in snorkeling, recreational diving, and both sport and commercial fishing activities. These reef structures not only draw tourism to an area, but they can alleviate the pressure on existing natural reefs. When planned well, tourism can also bring much-needed infrastructure and economic revenue to coastal communities. It is very important to educate both locals and tourists on how their activities can affect coral reefs and the ocean ecosystems that they support.

For example, many tourists are eager to take a piece of the reef home with them, and will often either break off a piece of coral themselves or buy pieces broken off by locals to sell. Recreational divers and snorkelers can also unintentionally break off coral by swimming around and brushing against the reefs. Both of these activities are very hard on the life in and around the reefs. Luckily for the coral reefs, through proper education, management and reef building techniques, there are many ways in which we can help them thrive.

lionOne of these techniques has been used in the aquarium trade for decades; coral propagation, also known as “fragging,” is the process of breeding coral. Almost any coral can be fragged and conservationists around the world have begun raising coral in nurseries or coral farms. Currently the focus is on growing endangered coral species to be replanted on reefs that have been damaged due to storms, human and boat traffic, or deteriorating ocean conditions. The coral can be grown in a protected environment when they are young and most vulnerable and then planted on established reefs. Coral gardening is a great example of aquaculture, which is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, mollusks and aquatic plants.

CRFAlthough there are a number of factors putting our reefs in danger, we are applying various practices to help combat this. The use of many artificial reefs and coral gardening is helping to increase not only the number of reefs in the world, but also their health. Remember, a healthy reef brings no grief!

Article by Hillary Ballantine:

Hillary Ballantine is from a small town in central Ohio, a long way from the ocean. She became mesmerized by marine life at a very young age, and always knew she wanted to help save the whales. She graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a B.S. in Marine Science and a B.S. in Biology, and is currently attending graduate school at Antioch University New England, earning a M.S. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Conservation Biology. She has worked with educating the public on marine life at Myrtle Beach State Park, and hopes to further her experience in both the education and scientific aspects of conservation.

The Right Place at the Right Time: Recovery of North Atlantic Right Whales

North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) were voraciously hunted for centuries. These whales were the perfect target for shore whalers: they stayed close to shore, swam slowly, and floated upon death. These attributes caused the species to nearly go extinct, until they became the first cetacean species to receive protection after the First Convention for the International Regulation of Whaling in 1931. These whales have been protected from whaling since the implementation of the Convention’s ruling in 1935, but the population has been unable to fully recover. This is largely due to the growth of the shipping industry. In the past 50 years, the number of commercial shipping vessels has tripled, and the size of these vessels has increased by a factor greater than six. This growth has led to numerous collisions between whales and ships, making it the leading cause of mortality for E. glacialis. However, things are starting to look up for right whales.

Habitat Area

Habitat Area

In 2003, Canada decided to move the shipping lanes transecting the Bay of Fundy four nautical miles to the east, taking the ships out of critical feeding grounds for right whales, and reducing the potential for collision by 80%. This unprecedented ruling was brought about by a very unlikely partnership: an aquarium and an oil company. Irving Oil has the largest shipping fleet within the Bay of Fundy, but worked with many different groups within both Canada and the U.S. in the hopes of increasing conservation measures for E. glacialis. With their complete support of these measures, the shipping lanes have been successfully moved, with negligible impacts on the shipping companies.

The U.S. followed Canada’s example in 2007, shifting international shipping lanes out of areas within the Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary where right whales congregate. The U.S. furthered their protection of E. glacialis by implementing a 10 knot speed restriction for vessels over 20 m in length in 2008, making it permanent law in 2013. This speed restriction has reduced the risk of collisions between right whales and ships by 80-90%.northern right whale size

Because of these implementations, right whale numbers have increased from 350 individuals in 2003 to 450 in 2012, with an average annual rate of increase of 2%. The number of calves per year has also increased from 11 (in 2001) to approximately 22 every year. In fact, Dr. Moira Brown of the New England Aquarium has said that as of 2012, no known collisions with right whales have occurred in the Bay of Fundy. Moving the shipping lanes and providing speed restrictions are not the only measures that have been taken for the conservation of E. glacialis, however.

In order to further reduce the number of ship strikes occurring within the U.S., the Cornell Bioacoustics Research Program, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association have collaborated to create Right Whale Listening Network. These organizations have placed acoustic buoys within shipping lanes to detect the vocalizations of right whales. When a call is heard, it is analyzed by a research lab to confirm the presence of a right whale. If it is a right whale, an alert is sent to ships located near the source of the sound so they can take necessary precautions to avoid a collision.northatlanticwhale

The increase of E. glacialis shows the world that it is both possible and plausible to conserve this species with minimal impact on our own lives. If these measures are used as a precedent for other countries to conserve their whales, it is probable that we might just be able to save numerous species. If these implementations can work for the U.S., they can work for just about everywhere else.

Article by Hillary Ballantine:

Hillary Ballantine is from a small town in central Ohio, a long way from the ocean. She became mesmerized by marine life at a very young age, and always knew she wanted to help save the whales. She graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a B.S. in Marine Science and a B.S. in Biology, and is currently attending graduate school at Antioch University New England, earning a M.S. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Conservation Biology. She has worked with educating the public on marine life at Myrtle Beach State Park, and hopes to further her experience in both the education and scientific aspects of conservation.