Ken Nedimyer is no stranger to awards. The lanky, laconic former fish collector was named a CNN Hero in 2012 for his success in fostering and transplanting baby corals as a way to conserve Florida’s threatened reefs.
Today he’s being named Sea Hero of the Year — and that simple, original idea has taken root beyond his wildest imaginings. Nurseries created using Nedimyer’s techniques have birthed more than 50,000 baby corals from Florida to Bonaire to Colombia and — soon, Nedimyer hopes — well beyond.
Pretty impressive for an idea that began as a high school project for Nedimyer and his daughter.
“It became a consuming passion, to try to find ways to protect and restore coral reefs,” Nedimyer told Scuba Diving in 2012. He founded the Coral Restoration Foundation as a result of that passion.
Divers who’ve experienced a nursery — which includes pretty much any diver willing to come to Key Largo or one of the satellite nurseries and be trained to participate — will find that easy to understand. Helping Nedimyer prune “teenage” corals at a nursery site and transport them to nearby reefs for “planting” feels like a sacred act, an almost religious experience for those who care about the future of our ocean planet.
For Nedimyer, divers who care are the linchpins of that future. “I believe an engaged recreational dive community is going to make a huge difference in the health of our oceans over the coming decades, so it’s quite an honor to be recognized by the community as the Sea Hero of the Year,” Nedimyer said.
The $5,000 prize to the Sea Hero of the Year will help ensure that future. Nedimyer plans to use the prize as seed money to help start a new reef-restoration program, most likely in the Caribbean. “We have been approached by several different groups throughout the Caribbean who are interested in starting a restoration program in their area, and in many cases, the lack of financial support is what is keeping us from starting.” Ever the campaigner, Nedimyer challenged all of us to get involved: “I would hope that some of your readers would be interested in matching the award money, so that we could start programs in more than one country.”
An engaged community of real divers is the heart and soul of the Sea Hero awards, sponsored by Oris Watches. “We are delighted to honor Ken Nedimyer as the 2014 Sea Hero of the year for his work in coral reef restoration," said V.J. Geronimo, CEO at Oris Watches USA. "As in past years, it was difficult to choose just one winner when each of our Sea Heroes has done tremendous work — this year’s causes included coral-reef conservation, protection for manta rays from Hawaii to Indonesia, and battling the lionfish invasion in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
“We at Oris Watches continue to be strong supporters of marine conservation and are proud to be the sponsor of the Sea Heroes program, now in its fourth year,” Geronimo said. “These individuals have made selfless contributions to the marine environment and personify ‘real people.’ ”
“Coralrestoration.org is the place to find out more about who we are, what we do, and where we’re going,” says Sea Hero Ken Nedimyer. “From there you can connect with us on Facebook or Twitter, and for some of the more traditional people (like me) you can sign up for our monthly newsletter.” For divers who want to get more involved, Coral Restoration Foundation has limited space available at Bonaire’s Buddy Dive Resort for a coral-planting in December. Contact coralrestoration.org for details.
CORAL CONSERVATION AT WORK AND SUCCEEDING
WHAT IS A SEA HERO?
Each Sea Hero featured in Scuba Diving receives an Oris Aquis Date watch. At the end of the year, a panel of judges selects one overall winner, who receives a $5,000 cash award to further his or her work. [Nominate a Sea Hero[(http://www.scubadiving.com/scuba-diving-sea-heroes).
For conservation effort information, check out our List of Non-Profits Focused on Marine Conservation.