Reef Relief’s founders DeeVon and Craig Quirolo retired in July 2009 after 22 years of exemplary commitment and service. Craig, one of the first Reef Relief presidents, has in recent years focused on chronicling the decline of the reef ecosystem through photographs and video.
The Quirolos, Lower Keys residents since the 1970s, became activists after Craig saw the reef damage that some boats caused with careless anchoring. They campaigned for increased education of reef visitors to prevent inexperienced snorkelers from standing on coral or handling it. Reef Relief was established as one of the first environmental groups to focus solely on the coral reef.
Reef Relief’s first tangible projects included installation of mooring buoys later turned over to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary system, creation of a nearshore marine park accessible to snorkelers, and a Key West education center. Photographs and video of underwater transects helped scientists report on changes at the reef, and discover new coral diseases. The online archive now offers more than 10,000 images.
We have supported the creation of marine protected areas such as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Negril (Jamaica) Marine Park, and established the Key West Marine Park in cooperation with the City of Key West. We’ve helped establish programs throughout the Caribbean, including installing mooring buoys.
Our Clean Water Campaign has led the effort to identify problems with sewage, agricultural runoff, cruise ships waste, boating impacts, and other sources of pollution that are affecting water quality at coral reefs in South Florida and around the globe.
We have studied the issues, identified solutions, and guided policy. A few of our past achievements include advanced wastewater treatment for the City of Key West, establishment of a boater No Discharge Zone for sewage in the Florida Keys, passage of a phosphate ban for laundry detergents, approval of bans on offshore oil drilling and exploration in South Florida, increased state standards for shallow injection wells, and a host of other actions. Reef Relief has been a watchdog for coral reefs.