DUNEDIN, Fla. — Florida's Gulf Coast has earned a new accolade — it has been designated a "Hope Spot" by nationwide ocean conservation alliance Mission Blue.

  • Mission Blue founder Dr. Sylvia Earle born in Dunedin
  • Gulf Coast joins 120 areas recognized as "Hope Spots"
  • Dunedin will hold official celebration of recognition on Oct. 25-26
  • More Good News stories

Mission Blue's Council chose the Gulf Coast to join 120 other "Hope Spots" in the world, each recognized for their unique features and programs that make them critical to the health of marine areas.

“It feels wonderful," said Vicki Love, president of Blue Green Connections, about the designation. "It is just so special to be able to call Dunedin the home of a Hope Spot,” 

The Florida Gulf Coast earned its new title thanks in part to the region's immense biodiversity, which is supported greatly by seagrasses.

‘They suck out CO2 from the atmosphere, which help us combat some climate change and sea level rise impacts that we might see in the future, so further protecting those resources in the future is going to be vital to this region,” said Ed Sherwood, executive director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

About 12 percent of land around the world is protected, but for the waters, it’s less than six percent.

This new designation will bring people together to protect areas that are not currently regulated.

“The Hope Spot gives us a unifying rallying point that we can use to collaborate with the many, many supporters that we have to promote sustainable use of the waters, to promote education and research and communication so that we can make sure that the waters are healthy for all of us to use today, as well as for generations to come,” said Love.

Partners in the project say this designation will also put the Gulf of Mexico on an international scale when it comes to protecting the earth’s waters.

Dunedin will hold an official celebration of this new title on October 25 and 26.

To learn more about Mission Blue and Hope Spots, visit mission-blue.org, and to purchase tickets for the Dunedin celebration, click HERE.