“People from all over the world want to be part of this effort,” says Francesca Virdis, head of Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire, which has raised and transplanted tens of thousands of corals.
When Francesca Virdis was introduced to coral farming, she was skeptical. Assisting a restoration project, she was convinced she had just watched divers cut up healthy coral for no good reason. Fast-forward six months, and Virdis was a believer: None of the harvested coral nubs had died, and all had shown substantial growth. That was 2012; today Virdis leads Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire, a nonprofit supported by local dive operators dedicated to protecting and restoring coral reefs in Bonaire. Virdis oversees everything from field work to training volunteers—more than 1,200 visiting divers, instructors and locals—data collection and monitoring. Bonaire today counts more than 15,000 corals grown in eight nurseries; more than 25,000 have been outplanted to reefs. For her efforts, Virdis is our May Sea Hero.
YEAR DIVE CERTIFIED: 1994
AGE WHEN CERTIFIED: 16
DIVE CERTIFICATION LEVEL: PADI Master and Tec Instructor, GUE Tec2, Cave2, CCR
WORDS TO LIVE BY: “Be brave and take risks. If you win, you can lead. If you lose, you can guide.” —Swami Vivekananda
Q: Elkhorn and staghorn nurseries have thrived off Bonaire; now you are expanding to different species. Why?
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Readers Choice: Best Destinations For Photography
Species diversity, ideal in-water conditions and weird wonders earn these destinations top honors
In It To Win It
Competition can help you improve your shots
Breathing air from a tank isn’t the only way to explore beneath the waves.
Underwater, it’s vital to remember what’s really important
A Studio In Your Hand
Video can bring non-divers into the underwater action
Underwater photography – Do No Harm
Tips for being an ethical underwater photographer
Ask Dan – Decompression sickness
How can I reduce my risk of decompression sickness?
A smorgasbord of wrecks and reefs ensures you’ l l never run out of photo ops in these warm waters
Sea Hero: JOHN WELLER
How one photographer’s mission to save the Ross Sea is bringing the planet together
16 TH ANNUAL PHOTO COMPETITION: OUR SPONSORS
What’s a contest without prizes? These generous donors—whose ranks include avid shooters like you—help make photographers’ dreams come true.