scuba divers, man with two prosthetic legs

Photo courtesy of NOAA’s National Ocean Service [CC BY 2.0], via Combat-wounded veteran partakes in coral reef restoration efforts.

Mote (Marine Laboratory & Aquarium) and the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge have collaborated with one another since 2012 in an effort to restore the Florida Keys Coral Reef (“Combat Wounded;” “Restoration”). The efforts by these two organizations have proven to be beneficial to sea dwellers and land walkers alike.


Mote Marine Laboratory

Mote (Marine Laboratory & Aquarium) was originally established in Florida as Cape Haze Marine Laboratories in 1955; later it was renamed to honor the laboratory’s benefactor, William R. Mote (“About Us”). This research facility has expanded upon its earlier years –focusing primarily on sharks– to restore coral reefs, understand marine life, study human illnesses by examining marine models among an array of other research endeavors (“About Us;” “Restoration”). Moreover, aside from research, Mote seeks to education the public on ocean ecosystems and support both scientists and ‘citizen scientists’ (“Restoration”); ‘citizen scientists’ being individuals who are not scientists by profession, but assistant scientists with their research and project endeavors. Mote does this by collaborating with groups such as Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, SCUBAnauts International, and the Gold Star Teen Adventures (“Restoration”). As of July 2015, Mote’s underwater nursery –established 8 years ago– has approximately 10,000 coral colonies and 150,000 coral fragments (“Mission Possible”). A coral colony is a grouping of coral polyp (or an individual coral organism) “that acts as a single organism;” it is when coral polyp are combined with other coral colonies that reefs are created (“Coral”). On another note, coral fragments are simply pieces or ‘fragments’ of a coral polyp. At the underwater nursery, there are around 60 different coral genotypes or different species of coral (“Mission Possible”). Although Mote is based out of Sarasota, Florida, the facility conducts research on six different continents –a much larger scale than the one room facility the laboratory started off as (“About Us”)!

The Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge (CWVC)

The Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge (CWVC) stands by the motto: “Vulneror non Vincor” (“Our Mission”). The Latin motto translates roughly to “Wounded –not Conquered,” perfectly demonstrating the organization’s vision to help wounded veterans, as well as their families, to inspire their selves and others to overcome adversity and embrace life (“Our Mission”). CWVC achieves this by offering wounded veterans adventurous activities that are therapeutic (mentally and physically) and beneficial to others –such as restoring the Florida Keys Reef (“McGlothian;” “Mission Possible;” “Our Mission”). Founded in 2010, CWVC not only focuses on rehabilitation, but education and research for innovative treatments in Orthotics (for injured limbs), Prosthetics (for lost limbs), PTSD, and Traumatic Brain Injury that veterans may suffer from (“Our Mission;” “Mission Possible;” “Restoration”). For instance, this year, those participating in CWVC and volunteering at Mote are being evaluated by military medical personnel and prosthetics experts to monitor the progression of the veteran’s injuries toward recovery and how prosthetic technology may be enhanced to function better in underwater conditions (“Combat Wounded;” “Mission Possible”). Currently, the medial personnel and experts working with the veterans are from Florida State University and Florida International University; however, in the pasted the program has worked with other colleges and universities, such as St. Petersburg College of Orthotics and Prosthetics (“Mission Possible;” “Restoration”).

Florida Keys Coral Reefs: Waves toward Recovery

coral underwater, a sphere of branches, with fish swimming over head.

Photo courtesy of Albert Kok [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Staghorn Coral.

Like many other endangered coral reefs around the globe, the Florida Keys Coral Reef has become threatened due to an array of factors such as disease, overfishing, and pollution (“Ecosystems: Coral Reefs”); however, with efforts such as those of MOTE, there are strives toward improvement. According to Erich Bartels –Mote’s Coral Reef Monitoring and Assessment Program Manager–, volunteers from Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge (CWVC) and SCUBAnauts –among others– have aided Mote’s efforts to restore the Florida Keys Coral Reef allowing more than 7,700 coral fragments to be planted (“Mission Possible”). The coral being planted, at the reef in an area near Looe Key within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, is the endangered Staghorn coral –known by its scientific name as Acropora cervicornis (“Combat Wounded;” “Restoration”). This coral, which is grown at Mote’s underwater nursery, is snipped creating a 2 inch coral fragment and relocated to the reef site (35 feet deep) to help create coral colonies (“Combat Wounded;” “McGlothian;” “Mission Possible;” “Restoration”). At the Florida Keys coral restoration site, Mote announced, in July 2014, that a section of the site would be set aside to honor the servicemen and women of America (“Restoration”). The project, to create an area to honor our servicemen and women, was completed later that month. Dr. Michael P. Crosby, President and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory stated: “‘But this project goes further by offering us at Mote an opportunity to thank our veterans and their families for the sacrifices they have made’” (“Restoration”). Together, Mote and CWVC continue to make a difference in the Florida Keys Coral Reef, as well as the lives of people.

“Together we can face any challenges as deep as the ocean and as high as the sky.” ~Sonia Gandhi       


“About Us.” Mote: Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. Mote Marine Laboratory, Inc, n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.

“Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge Working to Help Save the Florida Coral Reef.” MobilityWorks: Making the World Accessible. MobilityWorks, 31 Jul. 2015. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.

“Coral.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2015.

“Ecosystems: Coral Reefs.” National Marine Sanctuaries. National Ocean Service, 21 Jun. 2013. Web. 12 Aug. 2015.

McGlothian, Elise. “Wounded veterans find new purpose in saving Florida coral reef.” TODAY News. NBCUniversal Media, LLC, 25 Jul. 2015. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.

“Our Mission, Vision and Values.” Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge. Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2015.

Slimak, Nadine. “Mission Possible, Mission Accomplished.” Mote: Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. Mote Marine Laboratory, Inc,. Web. 21 Jul. 2015.

—. “Restoration and Remembrance.” Mote: Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. Mote Marine Laboratory, Inc,. Web. 9 Jul. 2015.


Feature Photo/First Photo: photo courtesy of NOAA’s National Ocean Service [CC BY 2.0 (], via <>.

Second Photo: photo courtesy of Albert Kok at nl.wikipedia (Original text : albert kok) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons. <>.