People We Love: John Halas

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John Halas

Photo by Nancy Diersing

Buoying coral reefs

As a diver off the Florida Keys, John Halas noticed long ago that careless anchoring was damaging the area’s coral reefs. So in 1981, he developed a reef-friendly method of anchoring that is now used in 50 different coastal regions.

Now a marine biologist with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Halas has installed mooring buoys from Malaysia to Egypt, and is working with marine experts in Vietnam and the ­Phil­ippines to establish the system there.

In June, U.S.-based ocean-conservation group Oceana awarded Halas its first Ocean Heroes award for the invention and international success of the mooring buoy, which uses techniques developed for coral sampling to drill through live coral into the limestone below and attach a buoy, riser, and polypropylene line. Vessels can hitch onto these buoys, rather than dropping damaging anchors onto the reefs.


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