The Sea Base, founded in 1979, is a youth-serving National High Adventure facility of The Boy Scouts of America, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, that facilitates STEM outdoor education programs in the Florida Keys, Bahamas, and U.S. Virgin Islands. Their Marine STEM program in Summerland Key is an exceptional marine conservation outreach program that engages scouts and young adults with active marine research projects and coral restoration in The Florida Keys. Program activities range from coral restoration to shark and dolphinfish tagging, water quality sampling, rare plant seed collection, and underwater robotics.
Reef Restoration & STEM Education
Coral Reefs in the Florida Keys have experienced a 90% decline in coral coverage since 1980 due to a myriad of anthropogenic stressors and coral disease; more recently stony coral tissue loss disease. Their newest and exciting addition is the Marine STEM Adventure which includes a land-based coral nursery where Scouts propagate, care for and plant coral on the Florida Reef Tract and will help mitigate declines in coral coverage. Their unique land-based coral nursery is one of four land-based nurseries in the entire Florida Keys supporting over 3,500 corals comprised of 6 species of bouldering and branching corals. When all 12 of their coral tanks are full, they will have the capacity grow and plant up to 10,000 corals per year.
The construction of the land-based coral nursery began in February 2019, with completion of the water treatment facility and twelve 178-gallon coral raceway tanks in April 2019; each tank is capable of housing up to 1,000 coral fragments each. They first received corals of opportunity to their nursery in July 2019, and They have been propagating corals with scouts since July 2019. Through the micro fragmentation process, we cut corals into small pieces, roughly a square centimeter which stimulates a growth response where the corals can grow 40-60 times faster than their natural rate. Sea Base will be planting corals as soon as the Summer of 2020 in the Lower Florida Keys. This exciting world-class program allows youth to engage with scientists and experts in the field of marine science and is dedicated to inspiring aspiring scientists and future leaders.