The Oris replica watches industry is a fascinating one, and most of the time it exists within a vacuum. But when the industry stands up and makes a real difference in the world at large, that’s when things become truly special. A recent press trip I was lucky enough to be part of with Oris in Key Largo, Florida was absolutely one of those times. This event was more than just a showcase for their new limited edition Aquis. This was a chance for Oris, their partners, and press to make a vital difference in the world by restoring and bringing attention to one of the Keys’ rapidly vanishing coral reefs.
Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea. These unique and beautiful ecosystems form the richest, most diverse habitats on the planet, covering only 0.1 percent of the world’s surface while containing 25 percent or more of all marine species. 4,000 species of fish, 700 different types of coral and countless thousands of mollusks, echinoderms, cnidarians, tunicates and other marine life depend on these shallow havens. But worldwide these uniquely beautiful underwater gardens are dying.
The corals themselves—the backbone of any reef—are nearly-microscopic organisms closely related to sea anemones. These tiny polyps colonize together to form spectacular skeletons housing thousands or even millions of individual organisms, each symbiotically linked to microscopic algae known as zooxanthellae. These zooxanthellae can produce almost 90 percent of the coral’s food supply, but are extremely fragile and susceptible to changes in ocean temperature and acidity.
When these algae die, the coral bleaches, turning white as it starves. With climate change, ocean acidification, pollution, invasive predators and good old fashioned physical damage from human sources to contend with, coral reefs have been bleaching and dying en masse for the past 40 years. The reefs around the Caribbean and the Florida Keys have been particularly hard hit, with up to 96 percent of the coral population dying off in the past few decades alone.
Dire as this may sound, there is an effort to stop this, and it’s spearheaded by the aptly named Coral Restoration Foundation that is yielding real results. The Coral Restoration Foundation has pioneered the art of regrowing depleted coral reefs the same way one would regrow a forest: by planting. This simple solution is made possible by their “coral tree,” a hanging scaffold supported by a buoy that stretches roughly eight feet into the open ocean in a coral nursery.