Source: Sun Sentinel |  Published: September 23, 2021 | Author: Emmett Hall

MMA fighter, Miami Dolphins player and veterans dive to inspect Lauderdale-By-The-Sea’s coral reef

Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Pepsi Stronger


There is strength in numbers and that was evident by the outpouring of support that showed up at Lauderdale-By-The-Sea for the Pepsi Stronger Together and Force Blue’s Coastal Conservation Ops summer tour.

The initiative is part of the summer-long marine conservation series that included coral reef disease monitoring, sea turtle surveys and beach cleanups.

Florida has the third-longest barrier reef system in the world that is known as the Florida Reef Tract. Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is part of that reef tract, which has a three-tier system that runs parallel to the beach.

MMA fighter Kayla Harrison puts on her dive gear for a beach dive at Lauderdale-By-The-Sea to inspect the conditions of the nearby coral reefs along the coastline.

Jason Koerner/Courtesy


The town prides itself on having an accessible coral reef known as tier one that is only 400 to 600 feet offshore and is convenient for beach dives. Tier two is about 1.5 to 2 miles off the shoreline in about 30 feet of water, while tier three or the “third reef” is in about 45 feet of water that drops off to about 100 feet.

The Florida Reef Tract treasure is under duress with over 90% of the coral ridge cover reduced over the last few decades. A call to action was sent out to help prevent further damages. Pepsi Stronger Together teamed up with Force Blue, NAUI, Keep Florida Beautiful and dive volunteers to lend a helping hand with the hope of stemming the tide of coral tissue loss disease.

Professional mixed martial artist and two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison joined Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mack Hollins to strap on the dive gear for a beach dive cleanup and investigation of the coral reef system. They were joined by 30 former Marine divers and over 50 recreational divers at El Prado Park in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.

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