Gator Halpern


Regional Finalist, Latin America and the Caribbean
Gator Halpern's Bio
  • 27 years
  • Bahamas
Coral Vita: Creating land-based coral farms to restore and sustain our world’s coral reefs.
Summary of Big Idea: 

Over 30% of global coral reefs are dead, and more than 75% are projected to die by 2050. This is an ecological tragedy and a serious socio-economic problem, as reefs sustain one-third of all marine life, support ~1B people globally, and generate $30B annually through tourism, fisheries production, and coastal protection. Coral Vita is creating a global network of innovative land-based coral farms, using breakthrough methods developed at the Mote Marine Lab and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology to grow corals up to 50x faster while strengthening their resiliency to climate change. Our land-based farms are scalable, allowing us to potentially grow millions of corals from a single site. Coral Vita’s business model can support restoration at unprecedented scales, and by taking a community-based approach we integrate local actors to promote long-term reef stewardship.


Since spending time living with indigenous Mayan communities as a teenager, I knew that I wanted to devote my life to protecting the environment from the forces threatening their livelihoods. As time has passed this passion to heal the earth has continued to shape my life, from researching aquaculture and deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon, to analyzing land-use change in rural South Africa, to working in Brazilian favelas. Through Coral Vita I am back in the ocean, my first true love from my childhood in California, working to make a meaningful difference in the fight to keep reefs alive.