Ken Nedimyer is the Founder and President of the Coral Restoration Foundation. He has been in the Florida Keys for over 40 years and has recognized the degradation of the Florida Reef Tract.
As the stressors that affect coral began to get the upper hand, Ken always believed that someone needed to do something to help the reefs. Because he was an aquarist in the early 90’s, Ken received permits to start the first offshore live rock aquaculture farm—and it was while helping his daughter with a project for 4-H in which they began experimenting with different techniques to reattach staghorn coral that he realized he was the one to make the difference.
For many years, Ken, his family and a group of dedicated volunteers worked passionately to refine the techniques they used to propagate staghorn coral. This became the basis of the Coral Restoration Foundation’s mission. Under Ken’s leadership, the Coral Restoration Foundation has established 5 coral nurseries throughout the Florida Keys Reef Tract.
These nurseries house approximately 40,000 colonies of staghorn and elkhorn coral. These corals are maturing in a safe environment, waiting to be outplanted onto local degraded reefs. The process uses the corals natural ability to reproduce using fragmentation to replenish the nurseries without having to collect corals from the wild. By creating more colonies of coral, Ken believes that CRF has the ability to help natural corals overcome the stressors that has caused a 98% reduction of coral cover. Through collaboration with universities, aquariums, and governmental agencies, CRF is leading research efforts to understand coral biology and the vital role that corals play in our ocean ecology. Ken has been recognized for his leadership in this field. He was named a CNN Hero in 2012. In 2013, he received the Wyland ICON Award and in 2014, Ken was named the Disney Worldwide Conservation Hero.