Sunday, August 19, 2007

Holyoke, MA and the landlocked Marine Reef Aquarium

I went to Holyoke to visit Nuestras Raices, an organisation that grew out of community gardens to be a major supporter and innovator of community development in Holyoke. They strongly support local businesses. When I landed in Holyoke and found their office, I came across Jerry, a passionate, energetic coral farmer. Jerry grows coral in aquarium tanks - 100 miles from the nearest ocean.
Jerry's vision is grand and fantastic. He grows coral from round the world, creating a kind of seed bank should coral reefs need to be replenished. He explained that he cools and warms the water in his tanks to encourage the coral to reproduce by releasing spores. Consequently, his coral is hardier to changes in water temperature than some naturally occurring corals. Jerry is a man that lives for marine environments, having grown up in Puerto Rico, and has found a way to live his passion in a place that seems so far from the ocean.

This is Jerry's nephew who shared fresh tamarind with me.
Jerry's Marine Reef Habitat makes its earnings from supplying aquariums to businesses and fish appreciators. He is also creating a domesticated coral trade so that there is an alternative to harvesting natural coral for souvenirs. Jerry's grand plan, however, is focused on the short and long term preservation of marine habitats.

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