Documenting the history of reef restoration is important because it allows us to understand our past and be more informed to take action in the future. The great men and women in our history were innovators who responded to crisis and went against convention. We have categorised the history of people and organisations involved in reef restoration into Pioneers, Scientists, Managers, Communicators and Businesses.
The Pioneers were the ones who started restoring reefs. It may have occurred thousands of years ago with the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand and Australia placing rocks into the intertidal for settlement of oyster larvae; the first man-made oyster reefs. They were also thought to have transplanted abalone and other shellfish between areas to enhance local seafood.
In the early 1900’s there was pioneering research on oyster transplantation in America. The earliest published research on coral transplantation methods we found was from the 1928-29 Great Barrier Reef Expedition on Low Isles. Research on coral farming methods started again in 1974 and became global by 2000. In the early 2000’s Tom Moore, NOAA, Ken Nedimyer CRF and Caitlin Lustic, were the prime movers developing Acropora nursery techniques. The Mote Marine Laboratory pioneered new methods including micro fragmentation with claims coral growth up to 50 times natural rates. One of the most prolific scientists in the academic literature is Dr Austin Bowden-Kerby.
The protection and preservation of 'tropical nature' has been an object of major international concern and political discussion since at least the 1970s. The early leader in management of reef restoration was NOAA who developed legislation in 1973 to protect and restore habitats. This led to small and large-scale repair of coral reefs damaged by ship accidents.
Reef restoration communicators are authors of books, manuals, scientific papers as well as photographs, films, TED talks and underwater art. The notable people in this field include Margos (1974), Jaap (2000), Precht (2006) and Edwards (2010) who wrote manuals for practictioners and scientists. There are several popular (over 1 million views) TED talks by scientists such as Kristen Marhaven and artist Jason deCaires Taylor.
The business of reef restoration originated in aquaculture and has also covers insurance, conservation and tourism. The Nature Conservancy, Coral Restoration Foundation and Mars Foundation are international leaders in coral restoration and in 2017 the Reef Restoration Foundation deployed Australia’s first coral nursery at Fitzroy Island. It is estimated that in the past 10 years approximately ?xxx million was spent globally on reef restoration and the number is increasing rapidly.