UNESCO: 70% Salty

Coral: the new gift for your mom 

2 Mins read

Mother’s Day is just round the corner. Flowers, chocolates, jewellery, but why not coral? Beyond a simple gesture of affection, the adopter helps to restore coral reefs, essential for the balance of the oceans. A gift that lasts longer than a bouquet of flowers. 

You don’t need to live in Tahiti to help save wildlife and contribute to saving the planet. From London, over 16,000 kilometers from the Polynesian shores, you can plant coral with the help of Coral Gardeners. 

At 16, Titouan Bernicot and his island friends decided to save the corals of their island of Moorea, where they grew up, by creating the Coral Gardeners association. “Originally, there was no path to becoming a coral gardener — we created it as island kids who saw the reef suffering and decided to take action to re-write the ocean’s narrative through restoration” says Bre Lyle. With the help of islanders, and anyone else who wants to save coral, Titouan and his team rebuild coral reefs, protect marine ecosystems, and raise awareness worldwide through social media. And it works, most of the adopters are 20 to 30 years old.  

Adopting coral is simple, start by choosing from one of the six baby coral fragments offered. The adopter then gives it a name and receives an adoption certificate by email with a photo and GPS coordinates of the coral. After the fragment is adopted, the coral will be placed in a nursery for it to grow. Once the coral is mature enough, it is transplanted onto the natural reef to revive and enhance the ocean’s biodiversity. Throughout the process, the adopter receives regular updates on the coral’s progress. 

Each coral planted helps to restore coral reefs. The association explains, “Scientists estimate that coral reefs host more than 25% of marine species. Coral reefs are damaged due to an accumulation of threats resulting from human activities. Overfishing, pollution, and coastal development are at the top of the list of chronic stress factors.” 

The majority of adopters are Americans, French, and Polynesians; but with the success of the association internationally, adopters now come from all over. “People like you and me, but also stars, are helping the association, such as Jason Momoa, the actor from Aquaman, who came to plant corals in Coral Gardeners’ nurseries last July to promote the second installment of Aquaman. A campaign in collaboration with Coral Gardeners that has enabled even more corals to be planted,” says Bre Lyle. 

“Since the creation of Coral Gardeners in 2017, nearly 100,870 coral outplants have been planted, with nearly 69,890 of those corals planted in 2023.” 

The association doesn’t plan on stopping there. It plans to expand the nurseries beyond French Polynesia, starting with Fiji in Malolo Island. Moreover, a new program will allow visitors to discover coral gardening hands-on, which will launch this month. A promising 2024 lies ahead for Coral Gardeners. 

For the few who may still be skeptical or unconcerned about the importance of corals, not only for islanders but also for Londoners and everywhere else in the world, Bre Lyle has a well-found response: “No Reef. No Ocean. No Air. This applies to everyone as we all call Earth home, and everything is connected from the mountaintops to the bottom of the seafloor.” 

If you don’t have time to adopt a coral before Mother’s Day, don’t panic, Father’s Day is just round the corner. You can also treat yourself to your own coral, after all, we are never better served than by ourselves. (Ours will be called “70% Salty,” of course!).

Featured image: Franscesco Ungaro via Pexels CC

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