The Paradise Coast of Florida is teaming with immensely diverse marine and avian wildlife and it is not only a well of natural resources but also a point of pride among all the people who live around Naples, Marco Island, Everglades and all of Collier County. But its tremendous beauty goes beyond the shoreline and out into the Mexican Gulf where most of the coral reefs and the bigger fish breed and thrive.  Thus it is imperative that we protect these wondrous gifts for us and the future generations.

Southwest Florida is home to a vast array of species and the grandeur of the natural environment is unique and unmatched all over the world. It supports a fragile ecosystem that is considered an abode for tons of fishes and sea turtles, not to mention coral reefs that took millions to develop and are vital for supporting life in the entire gulf and all of the inhabitants of the region.

However, a very unfortunate tragedy happened along the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010, a massive oil rig explosion claimed the lives of 11 people and injured 17 in a horrific accident known today as the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The subsequent oil spill threatened and severely damaged the reef and marine life. Fish populations diminished greatly and many reefs were destroyed. The scale of the damage was so unimaginable; nature would take thousands of years for it to barely recover. Documentaries and even a major Hollywood film have been produced to provide awareness in light of this tragedy. The documentary provides a vivid account of the beauty the life offered, the devastation of caused by the accident and the hope that glimmers for the future of the reef. The film, on the other hand highlights the human errors and the human drama involved in performing a very critical task of operating an oil rig in the middle of the sea.  On a positive note, active efforts have been made to remedy this situation. Life has been slowly coming back to the reef and people have been benefiting from it but there is still lots of work to be done.

Today, there is a massive community effort to build artificial reefs that would help the gulf get back on its feet called the Paradise Reef Project. This ambitious endeavor is a joint project of the public and private sector and is the one of the first of its kind in the world in terms of scale and size. A team of experts that includes seasoned marine biologists, engineers, divers and others with decades of experience have shown their support and have been pouring their time, brain power and resources to restore a total of 36 reefs to their former glory that will be home to almost 200 species of fish. There are still dive worthy spots here and there but it would be best to consult the local government before going ahead with such an undertaking. The project has been looking very positive so far and the world waits in fervent anticipation for the promise this noble project holds.

http://video.wgcu.org/video/2365794811/

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