On Earth Day 2020, SCCF officially became a partner of Mission Blue and The Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot, which hugs the state’s west side, spanning from Apalachicola Bay in the north to the Ten Thousand Islands in the south.
Dr. Sylvia Earle’s marine conservation nonprofit Mission Blue declared the Florida Gulf Coast a Hope Spot in October 2019 as recognition of the action from research programs, conservation projects, and educational programs of several dozen organizations hard at work along the coast to preserve the area’s ecosystems and life within them.
After visiting SCCF in February 2020 as the featured speaker for the 2nd Annual Paul McCarthy Memorial Lecture and seeing the research that we are doing to restore and protect our waters, Earle invited SCCF to become a partner in Mission Blue and the regional hope spot. On a boat trip with SCCF leaders, she was especially moved by the success of our oyster restoration projects, sea turtle conservation efforts, and seagrass research, as captured in the video below.
"Obviously in this community, more than in most that I get to see, you are already on the case, thanks to people who said we're really going to embrace this place and keep it safe," said Earle. She also said it was "very uplifting" to come back to a place she knew years ago when it was in much better health and to see that SCCF's efforts are bringing it back.
By becoming an affiliate partner with Mission Blue, SCCF joins over 200 organizations that have rallied around Earle’s vision of 30% protection of the ocean by the year 2030. From large multinationals to barebones scientific teams, the network unites a spectrum of non-profit, for-profit, and public interests under the common goal of restoring the blue heart of the planet through a global network of Hope Spots.
On a regional level, SCCF became a partner with Blue Green Connections to support all efforts to restore and protect the Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot. Blue-Green Connections, Inc. was formed in May 2019 as a result of work done to nominate the waters of the Florida Gulf Coast as a Mission Blue Hope Spot.
Using the Florida Gulf Coast as its initial project and rallying point, Blue-Green Connections’ mission is to promote and support sustainable use of our precious land and water resources. Hope Spot Champions Ray Bouchard, Tracy Tippin, and Vicki Love, all members of the board of directors of Blue-Green Connections say, “The Florida Gulf Coast hosts an incredible diversity of ecosystems and species that need responsible and sustainable actions to ensure it will thrive for generations to come. It is home to almost 100 threatened species! These ecosystems are critical to the economy of the entire state of Florida, and protect both the coastal mainland from storm events and protect the Gulf from adverse human effects.”
SCCF is working with the leaders at Blue Green Connections to bring more awareness to the Florida Gulf Coast Hope spot in our region as part of their goal to provide "a means for on-going collaboration amongst a broad and diverse set of interested parties to facilitate communication, data gathering, and information sharing and to stimulate cooperation and unity of effort."
Earle's vision is to establish such networks across the globe. "In the next 500 years, people can look back and say ‘thank you’ for bringing hope to the Gulf Coast. This is a moment in time where we have to take this knowledge that has been gained and to realize that all of us will win if all of us can restore health and keep it that way for generations to come," she said.
Learn more about her vision by watching the full-length lecture she gave to our community about the global need to restore our oceans. Watch the video below for highlights.