Our Blue Ocean Tribe

What We Stand for

Cultivate Trust

Inspire collaborative, ocean-forward partnerships and research projects. Commitment to local ecological education

Respect the Environment

Ensure our actions preserve ecosystem integrity and biological complexity

Enhance Biodiversity

Our products and projects enhance biodiversity and resilience

Strive for excellence

Use data-driven solutions to provide best-in-world products, service, and employment opportunities

Engage Business

Partner with local business to protect nature and accelerate positive change

The Reef Life Foundation’s goal with IntelliReefs is to create a sustainable method for coral reef carbon uptake that also provides long term funding for the MPA Marine Sites, along with additional revenue streams for local businesses through tourism-related activities. Within the next year, and in partnership with global organizations, the Reef Life Foundation will install a large scale IntelliReef system that will provide increased oceanic biodiversity to an MPA, or other test sites, create additional carbon uptake, and establish consistent revenue through fee-based tourism.   


Artificial reefs have the potential to enhance the rehabilitation of compromised ecosystems and degraded biological communities. The world’s oceans are home to important blue carbon ecosystems, but many of them are suffering from acute and chronic environmental disturbances. Redesigning ongoing and future marine conservation initiatives with IntelliReef technology will aid in the restoration of biodiverse, resilient, and economically important ecosystems.”

Emily C. Higgins: IntelliReefs Science & Communications Director

Our Team

Emily Higgins  Master of Science MSc Biology

Emily is a science communicator and environmental storyteller with an MSc in Biology. She is currently enrolled in the Environmental Visual Communication program at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario. Emily’s master’s research focused on sessile benthic invertebrate assemblages from coral reef communities in the Red Sea. She examined patterns of succession and colonization for different invertebrate taxonomic groups on a floating experimental reef, a seafloor artificial reef, and natural reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba, Israel. The main objective is to disentangle the mechanisms of change in coral reef communities in natural and artificial environments. During her MSc, Emily also conducted a systematized review of artificial reef goals and success in coral reef ecosystems globally. This is directly applicable for the effective management and conservation of endangered reef fauna.

We welcome her new position as the Reef Life Marine Science & Communications Director



My Laboratory Website:


Emily Higgins  Marine Science & Communications Director Reef Life

"After diving on the Sint Maarten IntelliReefs and conducting surveys of the structures, our initial observations and results indicate that they support an incredible diversity of life. Their porous design provides more surface area per square meter of reef material for settlement and protects early life stages of important reef-building organisms like corals. We were amazed to see wild coral recruits settling on one of our structures after only 14 months. Our preliminary results suggest that IntelliReefs can increase biodiversity of reef organisms even in very small areas and provide refuges to important fish and invertebrate species on degraded reefs." Emily Higgins

Josh Hanes Reef Life COO & Ocean Projects Guru

Reef Life: Project & Process Management Director and COO

Work & Professional Experience Includes: Co-Owner, Canyon Light Real Estate LLC (Houston, TX) 2016 – 2019\ Managed the budget, schedule, investor relations, and construction for ten real estate remodel projects valued at $3.2 million. Created accounting, marketing, and project management control systems for ten remodel projects.Led teams of over 30 contractors to complete five remodel projects on schedule with zero injuries.

PUBLICATIONS: Author: Hanes, Josh T. A Comparison of Nuclear  Thermal Rockets with Traditional Chemical Rockets for Space Transport. University of Utah Undergraduate Honors Thesis. 2016.

LEADERSHIP & COMMUNITY: President, Students for Space Entrepreneurship and Technology (SLC, UT) Jan 2014 – June 2015  Initiated student-run innovation teams for high-altitude balloons  and propulsion systems. Competed in the Global Space Balloon Challenge by sending a high-altitude balloon to near space\n and obtained wind, altitude, and video data along the Utah Salt Flats.\n Service Volunteer, Missionary (Stockholm, Sweden) Mar 2009 – Mar 2011\ Gained professional working proficiency in the Swedish language. Provided community service and learned invaluable leadership and communication skills while training over 70 missionaries through 12 training workshops throughout Sweden.

Honors Bachelor of Science in Physics 2016 Univ. of Utah    

Related Coursework: Finance & Accounting Computational Physics Calculus   Economics

Linear Algebra & ODE    Computer Science


John M Reyes Ocean Engineer MIT

Ocean Engineering Adviser 

​John Michael is a mechanical & ocean engineer from MIT.  He grew up in Austin, Texas with a passion for both nature and design, finding ocean engineering as an ideal method to combine these two loves.  He currently lives in Boston Massachusetts, where he is developing autonomous vehicles for environmental monitoring.  This and similar engineering projects have taken him to 10 countries over 4 continents, all of which allowed him to focus on designing engineering solutions to better protect the life – human and natural – that he found himself immersed in.  For the Reef Life team, he hopes to apply his technical knowledge to practical solutions that will have a lasting positive impact on coral reef ecosystems. ​

The IntelliReefs systems intrigue not only my oceanic interest from an engineering perspective,  but the artistic envelopment of the nano scale minerals, and their micro-biome improvements to the Blue Planet environment can produce a very high value to the region installed.

I believe that my strengths in mechanical design, marine structures, and experience in designing, building and testing in marine environments will contribute greatly to the project's success.  I'm excited to get involved in these projects due to their potential impact on ocean island ecosystems, as well as the opportunity it provides to work around the world with a variety of incredible people devoted to protecting and preserving our oceans.       I'm looking forward to our future endeavors.

​​Best,   John M. Reyes

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Department of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering

reyesjm@mit.edu | Class of 2019

Amber VanHemel Environmental Engineer MIT

Amber grew up snorkeling and diving in South Florida, which spurred her love for the environment and sustainability. She recently graduated from MIT and is continuing on to get her MEng in Environmental Engineering. She has relished in opportunities to expand her engineering perspective by traveling to places like Nepal, Australia, and Spain to implement projects, conduct research, and teach. Her project portfolio is diverse: covering topics from air pollution to groundwater contamination to coral restoration. While every project is different in nature, each combines her love for the environment and people.


"I'm beyond thrilled to work with Reef Life and contribute to projects that can scale up to have large impacts on the future reef ecosystems. The natural beauty of our planet is something worth preserving and enriching!"      vanhemel@mit.edu

Miguel Solari Environmental Ambassador for Reef Life

Buy a Bracelet & Plant a Coral

Reef Life Foundation supports coral science research globally as well as the divers planting corals. Every Purchase goes into the

Create Homes for Corals Campaign

100% of the purchase or donation goes to support coral reef conservation Beginning with The Nature Foundation SXM, St. Maarten island in the Caribbean,         Stay Tuned for next Reef Site!

Reef LifeFoundation

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“Drastic changes must be made if we are to secure not only the future of the ocean and its inhabitants, but also subsequent generations of mankind.  The time has come to bring change to the ocean and to openly and honestly exhibit truly sustainable living for the future. Within the context of The Decade of Ocean Science,  said Ian Kellet, Global Project Bio-Tech Advisor for Reef Life