Increased efforts to promote "voluntourism," or volunteer opportunities for vacationers, can contribute to the self-sufficiency and sustainability of tourist destinations. Marine scientists with Key Largo's Coral Restoration Foundation are offering voluntourism-minded divers a chance to aid in reef conservation during planned coral restoration dives Oct. 19-21 with Amoray Dive Resort in Key Largo.
Participants go on working dives to the coral nursery to clean and prepare corals for planting and take an orientation dive on one of the restoration sites.
At the nursery, corals are started from a clipping about the length of a knuckle and grow to 30 or 40 centimeters (12-15 inches). After a year on the reef, corals grow several inches tall, with multiple branches, and in five years they are strong, independent structures serving as habitat for a variety of tropical fish.
"Participants in the coral nursery workshops get to see what can happen in a year and five years," Nedimyer said. "This is something the average person can get their hands on and do."