For nine days in late October, six members of FORCE BLUE worked alongside National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) in coral restoration efforts in the Florida Keys. FORCE BLUE team members successfully lifted and cemented over a dozen coral fragments weighing at least 100 pounds (45.4 kg) back on to the reef, including one 900 pound (408 kg) pillar coral fragment, and collected and reattached hundreds of smaller elkhorn and staghorn coral fragments. They also worked with CRF to clean, re-assemble and install coral trees in Tavernier Nursery and to assemble dozens of new trees for shipment to nurseries throughout the Caribbean. The FORCE BLUE team was comprised of veterans and organization staff: Roger Sparks, Silver Star-winning U.S. Air Force Pararescueman; Jon Slayer, British Royal Marines Commando; Angelo Fiore, U.S. Navy diver; Nathan Quinn, U.S. Army Diver; Jim Ritterhoff, FORCE BLUE Co-Founder and Executive Director and support from Nicole Rosga, U.S. Air National Guard.
Ritter says, “The time we spent working with NOAA and CRF in the Florida Keys has proven invaluable for FORCE BLUE. It’s shown us that our mission to restore lives and restore the planet is an achievable one and that, with proper support, FORCE BLUE can be a force multiplier in the battle to preserve the world’s marine resources.”
Visit forceblueteam.org for more information.