This week we will be traveling through the Dominican Republic documenting Caribbean corals and visiting reef projects around the island. Yesterday we had the opportunity to meet with Jhon H. Morató who runs @Dominican Reef, a reef shop in the capitol city of Santo Domingo.
Dominican Reef was founded just over a year ago and Jhon says he got his inspiration for coral reefs and the underwater world as a young boy watching Jacque Cousteau. The Dominican Reef shop is a humble workshop where Jhon builds tanks, frags corals and prepares equipment for his service accounts around Santo Domingo.
Unlike the plethora of reef shops, frag swaps and reef shows in the USA, Dominican Reef is the only reef shop on the Island and pioneering a reefing community in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Reef shop sells products and equipment for reef tanks, including supplements, salt, test kits, skimmers, pumps, refractometers, and thermometers. They also specialize in building, installing and maintaining tanks for homes and hotels.
All the products they sell are imported from Puerto Rico and getting corals into the country is a whole other story. Jhon said one of his biggest challenges is getting online to ReefBuilders or Instagram and seeing all the juicy eye popping corals and explaining to his clients why he is unable to import them into the country.
However Pacific corals do make it into the country, and corals which are here have been propagated and redistributed amongst a growing group of reefers. Dominican Reef has several service accounts in Santo Domingo and he told us this 475 gallon, reef tank using the Triton Method is the best in the city.
After a tour of Dominican Reef and chatting with Jhon we came to truly appreciate the hard work he is doing to build the reef community. Jhon took us to visit the Santo Domingo National Aquarium where he is volunteering to help curate their 2800 gallon Corals of the Pacific Reef Tank.
Although there are many set backs and challenges ahead for Jhon he is determined to continue growing his business and inspiring a reefing community in the Dominican. Jhon is involved in several marine conservation projects and encouraging the Aquarium to turn their attention to Caribbean corals to create a unique Dominican Reef display.
Stay tuned to ReefBuilders for more updates from the Dominican Republic.