'Minecraft' and The Nature Conservancy Use Player Creations to Help Real World Coral Reefs

With Minecraft's recent Update Aquatic populating the game's oceans with kelp, sealife and colorful coral reefs, developer Mojang has now turned its attention to the real-life seas threatened by climate change, pollution and endangered natural reefs. 

With the Minecraft Coral Crafters campaign, Mojang, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, is turning in-game designs from content creators into real-world underwater sculptures made from BioRock, an innovative technology that promotes coral growth up to five times faster than normal. The effort is led by Professor Wolf Hilbertz and Dr. Tom Goreau of the Global Coral Reef Alliance.

"Coral Crafters is a celebration of the Update Aquatic,"  Emily Orrson, product marketing manager at Minecraft tells Heat Vision. "As we put coral into our oceans in-game it seemed natural to put them into the oceans in real life. Already, our players are innovating and creating in Minecraft to build a better world — and we are following their lead with Coral Crafters"

The initiative will see six BioRock structures installed off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico, where coral reefs have suffered from coral bleaching and been battered by hurricanes. Three designs feature familiar characters from the franchise, while the remaining three were designed by the Minecraft community. 

Starting on World Oceans Day on June 8, Minecraft challenged players to build coral reefs in-game and within two days, 10 million coral blocks were placed underwater in-game, triggering a donation from Minecraft to support The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to restore and protect coral in the Caribbean. In addition, net proceeds from the game's Coral Crafters skin pack go to support The Nature Conservancy's reef restoration efforts.

"This contribution will allow us to outplant 15,000 coral individuals on reefs that we are working to restore in the Caribbean," says Stephanie Wear, senior scientist and strategy advisor for The Nature Conservancy. "We expect these outplantings to happen in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Dominican Republic and possibly Mexico."

Snorkelers in Cozumel will be able to view the newly installed features as they traverse the picturesque waters off the coast of the island. 

"This is the best part about this project — attracting attention to this important ocean habitat — an opportunity to have fun and learn all at once," says Wear.

"We believe the creativity and innovation in the Minecraft community is building a better world for everyone," Orrson says. "Coral Crafters is a way for us to support that creativity and innovation and bring it to real life."

Not only does the initiative work to help real-world aquatic ecosystems, but it also inspires children to advocate for natural conservation in our world's oceans. "It is a great opportunity to connect people — especially young people — to marine life in the ocean that they may never have the opportunity to experience," says Wear. "It can inspire curiosity about these critically important ocean habits and the hope is they will want to learn more and get involved to help in even bigger ways."