The Dart Foundation has awarded a $180,000 grant to Mote Marine Laboratory for research designed to give coral reefs a fighting chance against the global threats of climate change and disease, a mote press release said.
This is the second grant awarded to Mote’s coral reef researchers by the Dart Foundation — a private family foundation based in Mason, Mich. “We are happy to support this research, which we believe will protect and revitalize coral reefs all over the world," said Ariane Dart, representative of the Dart Foundation, the release said.
The two-year grant will support ongoing Mote research on how coral larvae settle and grow — a critical process for building and expanding reefs. The funding will also help support Mote’s collaboration with the University of South Florida (USF) in genetic research with the long-term goal of developing gene therapy to enhance coral reef health.
“Generous support from the Dart Foundation has helped us unlock key aspects of coral reef health and potential ways to protect reefs in the face of climate change,” said Dr. Kim Ritchie, manager of the Marine Microbiology Program within Mote’s Center for Coral Reef Research. “Now, the Foundation’s new commitment will allow us to build upon these promising lines of research, which are at the root of better management and conservation of coral reefs.”
Ritchie and her colleagues will continue current research within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary — home to the world's third-largest barrier reef, the release said. Florida’s coral reefs and surrounding waters support hundreds of marine species and account for more than 20 million pounds of commercially harvested seafood each year. They also draw more than 3 million people annually, contributing more than $1.2 billion to the state's economy.