Our origins have started in many different places, but all have a common thread: a love for the oceans and a desire to protect and restore our coral reefs. In Florida, Ken Nedimyer saw a troubling pattern in the decline of the reefs he worked on as a commercial fisherman and tropical fish collector. Inspired to find a solution, he shifted his focus to corals and started the first offshore coral nursery in the Florida Keys.
As Nedimyer worked to develop and improve coral reef restoration techniques in the United States, residents in Bonaire noticed similar trends happening on their own island. Buddy Dive Resort, together with Martien van der Valk, Paul Coolen, and Augusto Montbrun, sought out Ken as a way to bring coral reef restoration to Bonaire. Over the next several years, with Francesca Virdis coordinating the program, they would develop a successful, community-based project focused on restoring Bonaire’s coral reefs. As these dedicated divers worked at restoring their local reefs, the need for an international network only grew.
Recognizing the need and wanting to set up programs rapidly and globally, Ken joined forces with the team in Bonaire. Reef Renewal Foundation International wants to turn the tides for our coral reefs by establishing practical, active coral reef restoration projects around the world. We believe that everyone can do something for their reefs, and that we should refuse to leave behind a world for the next generation without this precious ecosystem.
Word From Our Founder
When I think back to when I first started diving in the 70’s, fond memories of thriving reefs buzzing with technicolor fish fill my head. Watching Florida’s reefs decline before my very eyes and the vivid memories of what used to be drove me to become a coral gardener to help restore reefs 20 years ago. Today, that urgency has only grown: never before have we faced greater challenges to an entire ecosystem. And yet, in the face of all of these challenges, I have been encouraged by the people willing to make a difference for their reefs and the increased awareness around the globe for the protection of our coral reefs.
When I first began growing corals 20 years ago, I didn’t have much guidance. Not many people were working in reef restoration, and we developed methods slowly, through trial and error. But giant strides have been made in the field of reef restoration and with these advances and knowledge acquired, it shouldn’t take new projects another 20 years to get to where we are today.
With the experience gained and skills developed while helping others set-up reef restoration programs, I am confident in the team we’ve assembled here at Reef Renewal International to provide the tools and support our partners need to build thriving, successful restoration programs in their own communities.
To rise to meet some of the biggest challenges our reefs have ever faced, we need to work together, collaborating and empowering each other.
Reef Renewal Foundation International, Founder