My heart is full of words, feelings and pride for all that the team at GARF is achieving (they are my rock, and I thank them every second of every day).
It is so easy to get involved in other people's projects, and loose focus. It is so easy to dream bigger dreams than can possibly be grasped. Everything we do at GARF has to fall within our Mission Statement. This makes it somewhat easier for us to stay grounded and when one of us tends to get off track another picks us back up and places us back on the road so our journey in this incredible hobby can be reached by all who are willing to do the work, risk their heart, and follow the path.
TO PROVIDE THE CITIZENS OF IDAHO AND THE WORLD A SHOWCASE COLLECTION OF AQUATIC PLANTS, FISH, REEF ANIMALS AND PRODUCTS. TO STIMULATE INTEREST IN, APPRECIATION FOR AND AN UNDERSTANDING OF THESE COLLECTIONS. TO BE IMPLEMENTED THROUGH PLANT RECORDS, PUBLIC DISPLAYS, COLLECTIONS, APPLIED RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS, INTERNSHIP PROGRAMS, AND SALES OF QUALITY PRODUCTS.
This month is September, yes our anniversary at GARF. I will never forget when I left the Botanical Garden to get my feet wet and explore the reefs as if I were a sponge in the vast ocean. When LeRoy would share his compassion for these animals and the loosing the battle the wild reefs were facing I had to roll up my sleeves and become involve. It was a very scary time for the hobby for the Government had just outlawed live rock harvesting in the US oceans and the gossip was spreading that the fish and corals we so love would be next.
I want to share a little background on my entry into this field of research. As I mentioned the Government had just outlawed live rock harvesting in the US oceans. For individual hobbyist would purchase live rock from the pet store or wholesaler that came directly from the reef structure. The Government was concerned about this not only because of the loss of reef structure but the natural reefs are dying at alarming rates. I had so much homework to do. I had millions of questions and I followed all the research. LeRoy and I visited the ocean constantly to learn as much as we could.
The people who made their lively hood from selling live rock were furious, and needed to replace that income some how. They worked with the Government and brought forth the product and process of Aquacultured live Rock. This was an amazing process to follow for they could not use rock from the Natural sites they had to bring it in from Foreign Countries for they needed to be able to prove the rock was not from the natural reef. They had to place the rock in special areas, being careful how they brought it up. All I could do was wish these Companies the best of success for the amount of time, effort, money, and tears that have gone into providing a source of Aquacultured live rock should not be taken for granted.
Now I on the other hand, after working with LeRoy and trying to learn as much as I could as fast as I could, I began to realize that it was not what was coming out of the ocean that was killing everything inside of the ocean. IT IS WHATS GOING INTO THE OCEAN.
I heard of massive bleaching events that would wipe out miles of reefs in just days and this is happening in all parts of the World. I noticed no matter how carefully we were with placing rock we could not help but bring in all the creatures the wild reefs gracefully display, even the ones you simply do not want.
I looked at LeRoy with as much common sense as I could muster and I said "is there any way we can set up reefs with out taking anything from the ocean". He looked at me I could see the light bulbs turn on. I than asked "why would any one want to risk introducing something from the wild that could wipe out everything in captivity". You could see again that he was thinking even harder.
For all of this time when I would ask what was causing this horrible death to our reefs, I would hear over and over again that it was coral bleaching. I asked over and over again, what is coral bleaching? To be honest even today there are many causes and no one seems to know which one it really is in many cases. So again I ask, why would anyone want to risk introducing anything to their little glass boxes that could wipe out everything in such a short time?
For the first tank that I set up is now over 7 years old. It is the first one in my lifetime. It is featured in Mike Paletta's new book. Many pictures of this tank are on product labels and I can proudly proclaim there is nothing from the ocean, I grew it myself. When saying this LeRoy and I felt that this accomplishment was far to great to hold hostage. We were compelled to share it on our web site, we share the recipe on how to make the rock, cure the rock, and we actually sell Eddies famous sculptures for those who do not have the time, talent or space to make it for them selves.