Miami Living Magazine

Emily Procter

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Page 34 of 115

NON-PROFIT Saving Nemo & his friends Find out how you too can help preserve our coral reefs Words by Matthew Weeks In 2003, Pixar introduced Finding Nemo. The story depicts Nemo, a young, tenacious Percula clownfish, captured by scuba divers in the Great Barrier Reef. In order for him to escape his new glass homestead (a dentist's fish tank in Sydney), his father, Marlin, and Regal Tang pal, Dory, set out on a comical yet heroic rescue mission across the Pacific Ocean. Throughout the film, audiences become captivated by the story's heartfelt theme of family ties as well as becoming charmed with the reef's stunning imagery. The point is that even if you can't visit Australia's famous reef, you can still marvel at these amazing living ecosystems from your own backyard courtesy of the Palm Beach County Reef Rescue. This non-profit conservation organization is devoted to preserving all of South Florida's coral reefs. Spearheaded by both divers and non-divers, the Reef Rescue is comprised of gritty marine enthusiasts committed to safeguarding our indigenous coral reefs for future generations. The reason why this is so critical is due to the fact expert scientists project 75% of the world's coral reefs and 25% of marine species will be extinct by 2050. That's within our lifetime people! Possible theories that explain this demise include global warming, bleaching, disease, overexploitation, and pollution. All of which are derived from mankind's cemented stamp on mismanaging natural environments. Essentially, the Reef Rescue channels their energy towards specific manageable oceanographic problems (more specifically, targeting the coral reef ecosystem and preserving this natural wonder). Time and time again, they deliver successful solutions to South Florida's biggest historical mismanaged reef catastrophes. Examples include The Delray Outfall – removing harmful pollutants from the wastewater treatment process, The Lake Worth Outfall – eliminating dangerous wastewater on the Horseshoe Reef, Phipps Park Beach Renourishment – eradicating abused turbidity values and silt smothering reefs, and Staghorn Coral Mapping – saving local coral species from extinction, amongst others. Last but not least, the Reef Rescue relies solely on the generosity of its patrons. You can donate as much or as little as you'd like ($10 through $500+), and all of the proceeds go directly to protecting South Florida's delicate coral reefs. And for those of you interested in taking a more active stance, swim, or paddle, the Reef Rescue sponsors an annual Kayak-A-Thon Fundraiser in May (typically, Earth Day). The 15-mile course starts at Lake Worth Lagoon and carries over to Earman River in North Palm Beach to Peanut Island and back to finish. Therefore, the next time you visit the ocean and enjoy its crashing ambient waves, watch out for Nemo and his friends. Once you see them, you can smile knowing your efforts with the Palm Beach County Reef Rescue are working. For more information on the Palm Beach County Reef Rescue, visit: ML MIAMI LIVING 33

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