Reef-restorer Coral Vita in the Bahamas has won one of the £1 million Earthshot Prizes, in the Revive Our Oceans category.
The five winners of the inaugural Earthshot Prize were announced on 17 October at a ceremony based at London’s Alexandra Palace, with each one awarded £1 million to help support and scale innovations considered to have the potential to help repair the planet.
Coral Vita cultivates coral on land from collected fragments and replants it in the sea to revive dying ecosystems. Founders Sam Teicher and Gator Halpern claim that corals can be grown up to 50 times faster using their methods than with traditional restoration, and say that their corals are more resilient to the impact of climate change.
The two men both received Master of Environmental Management degrees at Yale, where they were awarded the university’s first Green Innovation Fellowship. A year after they launched Coral Vita’s first facility in Grand Bahama, Hurricane Dorian destroyed their coral farm. The experience brought home the extent of the climate emergency, they now say – and strengthened their resolve to protect coral reefs.
As well as restoring reefs, Teicher and Halpern work with local communities, public officials and private companies to improve education, create job prospects and build a model to inject more funding into environmental protection.