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Fighting for Coral: Force Blue Coral Response Highlights NOAA Vet Training Programs

March 05, 2018

A partnership between NOAA, FEMA, nonprofits and a local enterprise is one of many engaging military veterans and restoring important ecosystems—this time helping revive coral reefs in the Caribbean.

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NOAA continues to work with many partners to assess and repair damaged corals after hurricanes Irma and Maria. This week, along with and thanks to our partner, Ocean Conservancy, six Force Blue divers joined NOAA, Sea Ventures Incorporated and others in Puerto Rico. They kicked off a two-month FEMA-backed mission, focusing on coral reef damage assessment, emergency restoration, and long-term recovery planning.

Divers triaging coral; clean off dead sections and prep fragments to reattach.

Divers working to triage coral by cleaning off dead sections and preparing fragments for reattachment.

Force Blue, which engages former military special ops combat divers in conservation and restoration, helped with similar response work in the Florida Keys in December.

NOAA works with many other veterans groups and conservation corps throughout the nation to help with our mission work and  provide job training skills. Since 2012, NOAA Fisheries has been building and supporting veterans jobs in fisheries restoration and monitoring on the West Coast. The program provides veterans a transition to the civilian workforce by training them and providing career pathways in fisheries management and conservation.

NOAA and partner divers recording data on coral damage in the Mosquito Reef (Puerto Rico).

NOAA and partner divers recording data on coral damage assessment and response efforts at Mosquito Reef in Puerto Rico.

NOAA also works with The Nature Conservancy and other groups on the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Conservation Corps “GulfCorps,” providing short-term employment and skills training for local young adults, including veterans. Training focuses on habitat restoration-based jobs within the five Gulf states recovering from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

NOAA has prioritized investment in people through veterans and conservation corps, providing sustainable and lasting benefits to the environment, economy, and communities.

Learn more about the coral restoration mission in Puerto Rico

Last updated by Office of Habitat Conservation on June 10, 2021