MSC Foundation, MSC Cruises, the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee (MSBHC), and 54 NFL players and influencers have partnered to launch an environmental campaign to raise awareness to protect and preserve coral reefs. #SuperCoralPlay was launched on January 16, 2020, and encourages people and businesses to take the pledge to protect and preserve coral reefs by making simple changes in their lives or business operations to positively impact the environment.
Coral reefs are in jeopardy of disappearing at alarming rates, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists predict that 70% – 90% of coral reefs are in danger of dying within the next two decades (2030-2050), due to current environmental conditions. This is a serious issue because coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems in the world and are not only home to more than 25 percent of marine species but they also serve as a food resource for half a billion people and protect coastal communities from storms and erosion. Out of all the reefs in the United States, 84% of them are located in Florida where coral ecosystem related spending is estimated to generate more than $6 billion in economic impact in the five South Florida counties via annual sales, income and employment.
In an effort to restore reefs, MSC Cruises transformed a former industrial sand excavation site in the Bahamas into a private island destination with a flourishing marine reserve called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. With the help of scientists and environmental experts, the MSC Foundation is identifying a species of coral, coined “super coral”, that has survived ocean heat events and other impacts in the waters near the island. It is the hope, through collaboration with educational institutions such as the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM) and Nova Southeastern University (NSU), that through studying and breeding these coral species, it will be possible to restore reefs while enhancing their tolerance to future environmental change. This can provide a life-line for coral reefs in the region and ensure their future survival.
“Over the years, at the newly-established marine protected reserve at Ocean Cay, more than half of the coral has already died. Similarly, the ecological reef treasures of Florida – the coral state of the US – have been decimated, damaging marine life and leaving greater Miami exposed,” said Matthew McKinnon, chair of the advisory board of MSC Foundation. “If we act now, we still have a chance to help the reefs and the marine life and the benefits they offer communities. We need to contain ocean warming with more done to reduce emissions and we need to experiment and invest in research and development of super coral as well as advanced applied science to help regenerate resilient reefs, which is work MSC Foundation is developing in coordinating with key international and local partners at Ocean Cay.”
MSC Foundation, MSC Cruises and MSBHC are joined by 54 current and retired NFL players and influencers, coinciding with this year’s LIV (54th) Super Bowl. This includes Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, Jarvis Landry, wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, and Mark Sanchez, broadcaster and retired NFL quarterback. The campaign launched with an official music video featuring the ambassadors highlighting the issues facing coral and the steps individuals and businesses can take to help. Via a social media campaign, each will make a Super Coral Play – a simple action or pledge to help reduce negative impacts on the environment and their personal carbon footprint to help coral, and to encourage others to make their own contribution. Once individuals or businesses have chosen their “play,” participants are encouraged to express it on social media with a video or using the official campaign filter, tagging #SuperCoralPlay and challenging two others.
Individuals can also get involved by purchasing a special edition Super Coral Play bracelet made of abandoned fishing nets known as ghost nets, to support the important research on Ocean Cay. According to the MSC Foundation, for every campaign bracelet purchased, a super coral would be propagated at the Ocean Cay marine reserve.
“At MSC, we long have committed to continuously reduce and minimize the environmental footprint of our operations also as it relates to ocean warming and coral health,” said MSC Cruises USA Chairman and Ambassador of the MSC Foundation in the Americas Rick Sasso.
“We pledged to offset all CO2 emissions from our global cruise fleet that we cannot currently eliminate, while we continue to invest in the accelerated development of advanced environmental technology that will eventually lead us to zero emissions operations.”
During the week leading up to the big game, fans are invited to visit the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve installation at Super Bowl LIVE’s Environmental Village from Jan. 25 – Feb. 1, to learn more about the Super Coral Play campaign. This experiential space will showcase the work being done on Ocean Cay as well as offer an interactive experience. In addition, between now and Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2, 2020, participants sharing #SuperCoralPlay on social media will be entered to win a prize. More details can be found at SuperCoralPlay.org.
This post was written by cruise industry expert, Shannon Mckee, founder of Access Cruise Inc. Access Cruise Inc is a Miami based cruise marketing and sales consulting group, specializing in product and business development within the cruise industry.