Sustainable Ocean Alliance Alumni
Coral reefs are one of most important ecosystems on the planet. They are a cornerstone of life in the ocean, supporting 25% of all marine species. Sadly, coral reef health is collapsing around the world. Coral farming is the process whereby fragments of corals are collected from local reefs, raised in farms until mature, and then installed at the restoration site. Coral Vita is growing climate change resilient coral up to 50x faster to restore dying reefs using a land-based model to scale up restoration. Their method allows them to grow mature species in months instead of decades and by harnessing assisted evolution techniques, they can train their corals to survive in warmer and more acidic ocean conditions by adjusting growing conditions in our tanks. They breed native corals together, selecting for resilient traits. They are selling this service to customers who depend on the ecosystem services that reefs provide, such as resorts or governments of coastal areas.
About the founders
Gator is the President and co-founder of Coral Vita. Growing up in San Diego, California, Gator spent as much time as possible at the beach as a child, and he’s happy to say that he still does. An entrepreneur and environmental activist at heart, he started his first company in high-school and has been building projects ever since, including international development programs in Brazil, Peru, and South Africa. While studying environmental science at Pomona College, Gator helped organize a fish-farming project in the Peruvian Amazon that distributed millions of fingerlings (baby fish) to remote villages while analyzing deforestation rates. He also previously served as a fellow for the World Wildlife Fund Global Marine Program, and was named a 2018 United Nations Young Champion of the Earth as well as a 2019 Summit Fellow. Gator is an avid Liverpool FC fan, and continues to emulate Steven Gerrard on the soccer pitch.
Sam is the Chief Reef Officer and co-founder of Coral Vita. A lifelong love for the ocean may not be the first thing that comes to mind when meeting someone born and raised in Washington, DC, but it was there that Sam got scuba certified when he was 13-years-old. After graduating from Yale College in 2012, he served as the Chief Operating Officer for ELI Africa, a Mauritius-based non-profit. There, he helped launch a coral farming project in partnership with the Mauritius Oceanography Institute with funding from the United Nations Development Programme Global Environment Facility. He interned for the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s Climate Preparedness team, served as a fellow for the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), and was recognized as one of twenty two ‘Climate Trailblazers’ by the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit. Sam is an optimistic DC sports fan, an easy-going rugby player, and a PADI Search & Rescue scuba diver.