Florida Man Campaigns to Build "World's Largest Underwater Peace Sign"

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Photos courtesy Peter Wolfson
Online project funding site Kickstarter is full of first novels and comics and bands trying to tour. But what about the starry-eyed hippies out there looking to donate some of that Whole Foods salary to a good cause? If you're one with the earth, the ocean, or even just love The Little Mermaid a bit too much, the Peace Reef Project is for you.

Launched September 26 on Kickstarter, the Peace Reef Project was created by Florida resident Peter Wolfson. Its goal: to build the world's largest underwater peace sign off the coast of Florida, in the waters near Islamorada in the Florida Keys.

The Peace Reef will be 200 feet in diameter and will serve as a living peace sign. In addition to the visual concept, the reef will create a marine life habitat and promote responsible marine management. The state of Florida's coral life prompted Wolfson, a former New Times employee who's spent most of his professional career in sales, to try to enhance the underwater environment.

"I got my diving certificate when I was 13," Wolfson said. "The waters were beautiful, and the ocean and coral reefs were amazing. Now on the outside of the sand bed by Alligator Reef, you go out there and it's all broken-down coral, there's no color... there's fish-wire wrapped around everything. It's depressing. That's why I got into aquaculture in the first place."

Aquaculture -- also known as fish or shellfish farming -- refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of plants and animals in all types of water environments including ponds, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Coral reefs cannot form on open sand beds, which is all that is left in areas where the reefs have been destroyed by anchors from fishing boats and extraction of corals for use in saltwater aquariums, according to Wolfson. Natural coral reefs need a hard surface such as limestone rocks on which to grow.

"[Aquaculture] is very eco-friendly because it curtails the destruction of reefs in Fiji and Haiti, where they literally stick dynamite in the reefs, blow it up, ship it to the Port of L.A., and sell it to stores," Wolfson said. "It's bad for the economy and bad for Haiti and Fiji's reefs."

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