Scientists estimate that if we do nothing, 95% of the world’s tropical reefs will be gone in the next 20 years, but hope is not lost. British Paralympian swimmer, Ellie Simmonds OBE, has joined forces with the SHEBA® cat food brand and Mars Sustainable Solutions on “Sheba Hope Grows™” – the world’s largest coral reef restoration programme – to raise awareness of the fundamental role coral reef restoration plays in protecting biodiversity under the sea.
With the world’s coral reefs at breaking point, the Sheba Hope Grows™ programme aims to not only restore the beauty in our oceans, but help preserve our planet’s health and biodiversity. It aims to protect vital coral reefs which support 25% of the world’s marine life and the livelihoods of over 500 million people depend on coral reefs for food, income and coastal protection. The worldwide Sheba Hope Grows programme is active at over 30 different sites across the globe and, just two years on from its launch, it has restored over 80,000 square metres of coral reef.
To rally support for this vital movement, the SHEBA Brand has partnered with British Paralympian swimmer, Ellie Simmonds OBE, to raise awareness of the fundamental role coral reef restoration plays in protecting biodiversity under the sea and inspiring people to take action.
In a new video, ‘Stories of Hope’, Ellie visits the iconic Hope Reef in the Spermonde Archipelago, Indonesia, to take part in coral restoration first-hand and learn about the work the Sheba Hope Grows programme is doing with the local community to restore coral reefs around the globe. Passionate about ocean conservation, Ellie shares her experience and love for our world’s oceans and the life within them. Alongside the local community and Mars marine scientists, Ellie experiences coral restoration up-close, from learning how to build and coat Reef Stars in partnership with the local community, to free diving underwater and planting them on the ocean floor.
Ellie saw first-hand the impact of the Sheba Hope Grows coral restoration programme efforts, swimming over the iconic Hope Reef, which was unveiled to the world in 2021, with 14m by 46m lettering of H-O-P-E spelled out in regrown coral, marking the ocean with a symbol of hope. What was once a barren and lifeless underwater landscape, is now a thriving coral reef ecosystem with coral growth increasing from 2% to 70%, fish populations increasing by 260% as well as a 64% rise in the number of fish species. By 2029, the Sheba Hope Grows programme aims to restore more than 185,000 square meters of coral reefs — roughly the size of 148 Olympic swimming pools — at key sites around the world.
‘Stories of Hope’ demonstrates that positive change can happen in our lifetime, and that there is hope for the future of our oceans if we continue investing in the work required to restore them. In the video, Ellie urges and inspires the UK and beyond to rally behind the Sheba Hope Grows movement to preserve and restore the beauty of our oceans.
Ellie Simmonds OBE, Paralympian swimmer, says: “I’ve always been passionate about ocean health with the water being such a big part of my life for many years – and it was truly inspiring to learn and see coral reef restoration in action, from the damaged coral which is lifeless and barren, to the sites where the Sheba Hope Grows programme work is complete – and marine life is flourishing. I’ve learnt why coral restoration is so important, not only to ensure marine life flourishes, but also for the millions of people that rely on them for food, income and protection against climatic events. This is why it is so important for me to support the Sheba Hope Grows movement and urge people that, with action, there really is hope for us restoring the beauty of our oceans.”
Professor David Smith, Chief Marine Scientist at Mars Incorporated, said: “We know that coral reefs are the beating heart of our oceans and the continued results we’re seeing with our Sheba Hope Grows movement shows that there really is hope for the future. Our efforts around the world to restore and regenerate these precious ecosystems are showing exciting results – we’ve seen coral growth increasing from 2% to 70%, and fish populations increasing by 260% which is fantastic. We were so pleased to have Ellie Simmonds join us in Indonesia to show her the work we’re doing and we hope this video will help spread the word and inspire others to get involved in the Sheba Hope Grows movement.”
Paolo Rigamonti, General Manager Mars Pet Nutrition UK, said: “We’re so proud of the work that our SHEBA brand and our Mars marine experts are doing, sparking action with the global Hope Grows movement, driven by our belief that the world we want tomorrow, starts with how we do business today. Taking continued action for our climate has never been more crucial; SHEBA’s work is supported by the vision at the heart of the Mars Sustainable in a Generation Plan - one where the planet is healthy, people and pets are thriving, and society is inclusive. Our programme shows that by sharing knowledge and taking collective action, hope grows even in the most challenging of circumstances. With such an affinity with water and the opportunity to see the impact on the reef first hand, Ellie is the perfect advocate for our work and to inspire us all about the part we can play in protecting our planet’s biodiversity”
As part of the movement, for the second year running, the SHEBA team has also selected an Advocate from the UK, budding marine biologist, Callum Hobbs, to join the team on the Hope Reef for a 10-day experience, learning first-hand from experts and the local community how to restore and rebuild coral reefs.
The SHEBA Brand’s sustainability efforts are supported by parent company Mars, Incorporated, and its efforts to protect our planet. The Mars Sustainable in a Generation Plan illustrates the Mars mission to build the world we want tomorrow, today.
To learn more about this global coral restoration movement, follow Ellie Simmonds’ journey discovering Hope Reef, by watching Stories of Hope on YouTube, checking out the Sheba Hope Grows website, and following Sheba Hope Grows Instagram.