Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Billy Costello, center, who lost his right leg while stationed in Afghanistan, helps transplant coral Monday in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Big Pine Key, Fla. Costello is one of a dozen wounded veterans in the Keys helping transplant corals on a special section of the reef, permitted to Mote Marine Laboratory, and set aside as a remembrance area for fallen American service personnel. (AP via Joe Berg/Florida Keys News Bureau)
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BIG PINE KEY, FLA. — A dozen wounded veterans submerged in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to help transplant corals on a special section of the reef set aside as a remembrance area for fallen American service personnel.
The vets were joined Monday by teens from two organizations to sow staghorn corals on a section of a patch reef permitted to Mote Marine Laboratory.
Four of the eight youth divers were members of Gold Star Teen Adventures, an organization providing adventure camps for survivors of military personnel who died in the line of duty. The rest belong to SCUBAnauts International, a program that involves youngsters in the marine sciences.
Mote has been involved in growing and transplanting threatened staghorn corals in the sanctuary for about eight years.
The group’s project ends Tuesday.