Maurizio Martinelli is Florida’s Coral Disease Response coordinator, working with over 80 partner organizations to address the multi-year outbreak of stony coral tissue loss disease on Florida’s Coral Reef. While Maurizio brings to the position nearly a decade of coral conservation experience, he began his career working in policy development and project management at the United Nations, first with the Permanent Mission of Tuvalu to the U.N. and subsequently for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Maurizio decided to direct his passion for environmentalism and humanitarianism towards an existential threat for many: the decline of coral reefs. Following several years of coral conservation work and education focused on the Pacific, Maurizio moved to Miami to work on the outbreak of stony coral tissue loss disease, first as the state’s National Coral Reef Management Fellow before transitioning into his current role with Florida Sea Grant.
Maurizio holds an M.A.S. in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD and a B.A. in International Development Studies from McGill University.
Outside of work, Maurizio is an avid lover of food, both the cooking and the eating of it. He also loves music but has been terrible at every instrument he has ever picked up – a very belated apology to his neighbors growing up for his saxophone phase. As with many in the field, Maurizio also takes any excuse to jump in the ocean, be it for surfing, swimming, diving, or just floating about.
Projects, Research & Specializations
Florida’s response to the outbreak of stony coral tissue loss disease is unprecedented. Never before has such a large community of managers, researchers, conservationists, aquarists, and engaged citizens come together to address a coral disease outbreak. The reason is that this disease – impacting reefs throughout the Caribbean – is likely the worst coral disease ever recorded. However, as Florida’s list of response partners grew, so too did the need for central coordination – and that is where Maurizio comes in.
Maurizio works to lead and maintain Florida’s SCTLD Response. Maurizio works closely with the four ‘lead agencies’ of the response: Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Park Service. In addition, Maurizio works with the co-leads of eight different response teams, each geared towards a different topic area (e.g., Research, Restoration, Data Management, etc.). This organization has fostered close collaboration amongst the over 80 partner organizations which has allowed the State to make huge strides in learning about, responding to, and recovering from this devastating coral disease.