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#SuperCoralPlay social network campaign seeks to save coral reefs

US CORAL (ADDS VIDEO) | 17 de enero de 2020

By Alberto Domingo Carreiro

Miami, Jan 16 (efe-epa).- The increase in carbon dioxide emissions and ever-hotter summers have destroyed 90 percent of the coral reefs off the Florida coast, a trend that the #SuperCoralPlay campaign launched on Thursday is seeking to halt along with encouraging people to reduce their carbon footprint via a social network challenge.

The initiative, pushed by the University of Miami, the MSC Foundation and the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee (MSBHC), is aimed at raising public awareness to protect one of the world's most diverse ecosystems, where more than 25 percent of all marine species live: coral reefs.

"The bleaching is caused by our summers getting too warm and that's caused by the buildup of CO2 in our atmosphere, so ultimately the only fix to this is reducing CO2 emissions," Chris Langdon, a professor of marine biology at the University of Miami, told EFE.

This new challenge, which organizers hope goes viral, is designed to get people to contribute money and/or share on the social networks an environmentally friendly personal act dubbed a "Super Coral Play," such as biking to work or avoiding the use of plastics. When individuals or businesses have chosen their "play," they are urged to express it on social media and challenge two other people to do something similar.

NFL stars such as the Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald the Cleveland Browns' Jarvis Landry and retired Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Sanchez have already joined the campaign, along with 51 other current and retired NFL players and influencers.

The initiative is getting started just a few weeks before Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2, which will be the most-watched and most important sports event of the year, and it has allowed those elite athletes to experience first-hand what is happening in the oceans.

Players can travel to the Bahamas, 65 miles from Miami, where the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is located, an island that MSC Cruises transformed into a nature preserve and which for decades was a dump and an industrial sand extraction zone.

People who want to get involved with the #SuperCoralPlay campaign can purchase a special edition Super Coral Play bracelet "made of abandoned fishing nets known as ghost nets, to support the important research on Ocean Cay, to help find practical solutions for the survival of coral for future generations," according to a campaign press release.

The MSC Foundation says that "for every campaign bracelet purchased, a Super Coral would be propagated at the Ocean Cay marine reserve off the coast of Miami."

In addition, the campaign says that "a team of scientists and environmental experts, are identifying hardy species of coral, colloquially termed 'Super Coral'3, that have survived recent extreme ocean heat events and other impacts in the waters near the island," and this opens the door to restoring the coral reefs, as well as ensuring that this marine animal can reproduce and survive.

Restoration, Langdon told EFE, is "being done all around the world already and it's a proven technique where corals are grown in in-shore nurseries until they're big enough to be off-planted onto the offshore reefs."

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 84 percent of the coral reefs in the US are located off the Florida coast and just in South Florida these ecosystems have an economic impact of more than $6 billion.

In addition, they provide more than 71,000 jobs.

However, according to NOAA, for years the reefs have been dying at an alarming rate, with Florida having lost approximately 90 percent of its coral reefs in the past 40 years.

"People that care about coral reefs are realizing that we need to take aggressive steps now," Langdon said.

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