Counting Coral Diaries : Our Story
Counting Coral began with a buildup of commitment and urgency. We knew the idea was not only revolutionary, but it was necessary. It was necessary in the call to action for coral reefs.
Humans are highly motivated to avoid threats. However, from what we saw, this remained untrue for climate change. The deterioration of the natural world is not an immediate collapse, nor is it one that might be direct for everyone. Acting on environmental issues becomes a trade-off between short-term and long-term benefits, which is the hardest trade-off for people to make. As a result, most people are not forced to handle the specifics of climate change, which leads them to treat it as an abstract concept.
The simplest place to start is the inevitable truth that it has become the Natural World vs. The Man Made World. The truth within this is that one of these world’s needs the other to survive, and one does not. We reap the benefits of the biosphere, and take gifts of sustenance, water, oxygen, natural resources and energy; yet take minimal effort to understand and protect it. The state of our environmental support system is what ultimately determines our survival and the only way to reduce the destruction of this natural world is to take action.
So as individuals and a team - we did.
We knew our efforts had to be extravagant. In such a stimulating and visually advanced time, basic sights and basic conversations don’t captivate people anymore. Unless you are already intrigued by coral restoration, the chances are you wouldn’t be spending too much time looking into coral fragmentations on the seafloor. An essential part of “saving the planet” is to expand the awareness and expand the community. The first step is to get people interested. The heartbreaking truth about the deterioration of the marine world is public, but again, people just don’t care. As a nonprofit, we wanted to make incurious people curious, and curious people curiouser.
Counting Coral’s underwater art installation began as an idea, then moved to doodles, and overtime was developed scientifically and artistically before making its way into reality.
There are two main factors in Counting Coral’s sculptural coral banks. There is the awareness driver. This is the artwork; the first thing that people will see and the utter shock that such unique pieces of art are underwater. Then there is of course the technicality of the design. From material, structure, height and evolutionary elements, the sculptures were designed meticulously with coral restoration at the forefront. Every element in the coral bank installation is purposed for the protection and growth of coral. The worlds of artistry and innovation came together seamlessly to create functional art that will revolutionize coral growth.
Counting Coral’s first installation was to be placed in Fiji. Fiji is a beautiful island country dependent on its once thriving reefs. The changing climate has caused bleaching events around the Fijian islands, killing off their incredibly diverse reefscapes.
A few months into the beginning of our nonprofit journey, we were hit with the pandemic. This tested us as a nonprofit, and delayed many projects, such as all travel. Despite the challenges, Counting Coral stayed in a place of consistent growth within the organization.
Counting Coral faced months of adversity with a small team, small funding and even smaller public awareness. “It’s crazy how hard it is to do the right thing. Why are there so many obstacles in the race to protect the support system that supports all of us?” Jolyon, Founder.
We kept expanding - our team, our insight, and our ideas. As the team began to grow, so did our outreach, which led to the incredible support that fueled the building of the first sculptural installation. Over the course of a year and a half, counting coral raised enough donations for the park. We chose to highlight our supporters within the sculpture so that hundreds of years from now, they are still a part of a project bigger than ourselves.
The Image above shows the centerpiece of our first sculptural installation. This piece features Anarchist Wine’s name and logo to celebrate their immense involvement with this project and generous donation.
The center also says “Hope” in honor of Sylvia Earle’s Hope Spots. “Hope Spots are ecologically unique areas of the ocean that are designated for protection under a global conservation campaign overseen by Mission Blue, a non-profit organization founded by Sylvia Earle”.
As a small nonprofit entirely functioning on philanthropy, this was a difficult time to communicate our mission, let alone receive donations to support it. As we navigated tricky times, we valued transparency and agility. Counting Coral made sure our donors knew the current steps we were taking, where every dollar was going, and how we plan to move forward. We were also able to explore different fundraising strategies, new systems, and new ways to reach people. As a growing nonprofit we could pivot and try new approaches. This is something we are still actively doing as we expand and work towards global coral banks.
Counting Coral’s team has recently stepped into the NFT space. Art is an important element to all that we do, so as different forms of art gain traction, we aim to stay involved. This involvement will help advance fundraising and community growth efforts. We have been communicating to larger groups on platforms such as Clubhouse to talk about the room for sustainability and environmentalism in these new and emerging tech spaces.
As we spend time addressing the coral crisis, it is important to educate these spaces on the necessity of sustainability and environmental consciousness in A.I, NFT’s, and The Metaverse. We aim to keep people thinking about how these advancements can be used for the greater good. The preservation of the planet and green leaders should be involved throughout.
Through our outreach and connections, we are able to work with incredible scientists, marine biologists and coral specialists who saw the immense value in what we do. Climate Resilient Coral is a more recent term in the world of coral planting. Often called Climate Tolerant Coral, or Super Coral - this type of coral offers a world of hope in restoring reefs. A climate resilient coral is one that can either resist a large-scale stressful event, such as bleaching, or recover from it. After mass bleaching events where many corals are dead or dying, these corals demonstrate the ability to tolerate, recover and successfully reproduce after a stressor. If we are going to be growing coral it should be one that is genetically stronger than the rest. So whether it remains on the coral bank or is harvested to put onto the reef, it has a better chance of survival for if and when temperatures or stresses occur.
Our team has been working closely with scientists who specialize in this fragmentation process and are able to identify them correctly. By placing these types of corals on our sculptures, we are strengthening the future of the reefs.
Beyond art and restoration, Counting Coral’s sculptures expand into the community. A sculptural marine park undoubtedly brings the community together, creating educational opportunities for the locals. The up-charge to dive on the site will fuel the community projects, and benefit the local stakeholders of the park. All money circling through the park goes directly into the community, and will in turn support Counting Coral’s goal in donating and installing coral banks globally.
With Counting Coral’s sculptural coral banks; coral can grow and awareness is driven. This detailed installation allows coral to; naturally spawn, receive protection from predators, and grow in a place of safety for further restoration on neighboring reefs. This all takes place whilst driving awareness and capturing the attention from people globally.
Unfortunately there are and will always be those who just simply don’t care. Don’t like the beach, afraid of sharks, sand is annoying, living inland, getting sunburnt easily? Whatever the reason, sometimes it will just never click, but we hope to reach people and wake them up. It is not a tactic to say we have little time. For coral reefs to survive, and therefore ocean health to be steady, emissions would have to fall to zero before 2100, and restoration tools would have to be widespread and effective in the next 20 to 30 years. Experts say that by 2050 there may be more plastic than fish in the sea, or perhaps only plastic left. Others say that 90% of our coral reefs may be dead, followed by waves of mass marine extinction leaving overheated and acidified oceans.
The funny thing about nonprofits that are working for the environment is that no one assigned them to do this, they weren’t hired or told to; it just became apparent that it was the right thing to do. But imagine if no one did? Imagine if no one was cleaning trash from the ocean and protecting the wildlife that can’t protect itself? We would not be where we are now, nor would we be destined for much longer.
Notice the people that are doing the work for you. Support them. Let them keep doing it. Inform yourself on the innovative ways that we can create real change.
Counting Coral began as a very small group with a very large plan, but the plan just makes sense. We hope you can support us in our mission. The clock is ticking, and the health of our ocean is on the line.