Florida's Coral Reef Conservation
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Florida's Coral Reef

Thank You! 

In 2023, Tito’s Handmade Vodka teamed up with Palm Beach Zoo to dive deep into our Coral Reef Conservation Initiative. Through this collaboration, the Zoo's Science Dive Team provides essential data to help preserve and protect Florida's Coral Reef. Our ultimate goal is to be joined by our community in saving wildlife in wild places. We accomplish this by sourcing information, opportunity and, most importantly, creating a feeling of agency for those we engage to act for nature. 

The dream is just below the surface. Thanks to Tito's Handmade Vodka, we are diving closer to preserving a thriving coral reef as part of Florida's ecosystem for future generations. 

Florida's Coral Reef Conservation

Three divers in silhouette

The Florida coral reef tract, which is the third largest barrier reef in the world, is in danger of losing 50% of its stony coral species to a novel, quickly spreading disease. To understand how to stop the disease and recover, coral data is needed on the movement of the disease and changes over time. 

The majority of the monitoring has been focused on at the southern end of the reef ecosystem from Miami south to the Florida Keys. The northern most reaches, which may become a refugia as water temperatures rise, needed scientific divers to collect data, monitor, and eventually recover the coral.  

This is a collaborative effort among local, state, and federal environmental managers, scientists, conservation organizations and reef users comprising the Florida Reef Response Program (FRRP). They have developed resilience-based management strategies for anticipating and addressing climate change and other stressors on Florida’s coral reefs. Our primary partners are NOAA and FWC who provide the annual training, weekly updates and deployment details. 

Palm Beach Zoo has joined the Disturbance Response Monitoring (DRM) team deploying our science divers to run transects throughout the months where thermal stress creates deadly conditions for the vulnerable stony coral species. This information is collected from the Northern Reef tract to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) This same team will be deployed when needed for recovery work. 

Our Zoo Science Diver team was initially activated in 2019 and runs the fieldwork annually during the months of August, September, and October. The DRM runs weekly meetings for updates and annual training in which all divers participate. 


Divers under water measuring Coral

Associate Curator Nancy Nill takes a measurement. 

Diver under water writing down data

Palm Beach Zoo's Animal Experience Curator Mike Terrell notates the findings on his data sheet.

Two divers collecting data

Terrell and Zoo COO Casey Coy define the area to be studied.