Did you know a coral community thrives just beneath PortMiami? It turns out this particular reef is surprisingly adaptable to harsh urban environments and has become incredibly important to coral conservationists and researchers at Florida International University, the University of Miami, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Since late October 2019, casual fish fans and sea scientists alike have been able to check in on the vibrant underwater community via a 24/7, hi-res livestream thanks to Coral City Camera. The CCC feed was established by the longtime Miami-based marine advocates, scientists, and all-around creative forces of Coral Morphologic, who've teamed up with the likes of Arcade Fire and Animal Collective in the past.
When CCC switched on last year, it was impossible to predict it would wind up leading the pack in an ever-expanding school of livestreams broadcasting out of Miami. Five months and one coronavirus-induced global panic later, it's become a much-needed source of calm in increasingly turbulent times.
It's quite the party — but every party needs a little music.
Miami-born, New York City-based DJ and producer Jubilee had no idea this reef existed until recently. But when the folks of Coral Morphologic asked her to create a swimmy soundtrack to accompany their broadcast, she jumped at the “dream.”
“These are the kinds of things that I visualize when I make music,” Jubilee says. “My music is all based on Florida and fish. I literally have a song called 'Stingray Shuffle.' Only people from Florida know what that is.”
A lifelong ocean fanatic, Jubilee says Coral Morphologic's Instagram account is one of her favorite online destinations. She was excited as soon as the collective gave her a follow, and when the formal request for a contribution came, she immediately cleared her busy schedule.
“The project is fucking sick,” she exudes. “My agent watched it and was like, 'This looks like what you'd put on instead of a yuletide fire log at a party.'”
She filled her 46-minute mix with bright, wavy originals and tunes from friends featured on her ongoing Magic City releases. It's fresh, funky, buoyant, and breezy — a marvelous set of tail-fin twerkers for all of the coral's tropical cuties.
Jubilee's soundtrack was shared Thursday, March 5, marking the fifth entry in the ongoing Coral City Camera Mix series.
“Jubilee was the perfect sound we were looking to release on 305 day,” Coral Morphologic cofounder Colin Foord says. “It's got that old-school Miami bass we love but is dialed into 2020 as the perfect soundtrack to a great party or just getting cosmic with the fishes of the CCC.”
The CCC officially launched its mix series with an event at Pérez Art Museum Miami in early February. The underwater camera doesn't come with a microphone (for now), so the gully-buddy mixes are uploaded to SoundCloud and can be easily played via an embed placed just below the stream on CCC's website.
So far, the series has offered mixes from Schematic Records cofounder Romulo Del Castillo, OVO Sound-approved DJ and Vice documentarian John McSwain (who made a film about Coral Morphologic in 2015), School of Seven Bells frontwoman Alejandra Deheza, and Coral Morphologic's official in-house musician, J.D. McKay. Every single artist involved was raised in Florida and takes the mission of coral conservation and research as seriously as Coral Morphologic takes it.
“Growing up [in Florida] in the '90s, everybody was saving the manatees and adopting them, and it just becomes a part of you,” Jubilee says. “[The ocean] is the inside-out of the planet. We live on the ground, and it's a whole other entire world underneath. I think that's so fucking cool because we can't even see it. There's probably whole communities of creatures down there that do the same things we do.”
According to Foord, interest around the PortMiami coral began in 2009 with the discovery of a rare hybrid fused-staghorn coral (Acropora prolifera) living in the Government Cut shipping channel near Fisher Island. It was the area's first “super coral,” and Foord even gave a TEDxMIA talk about it in 2011.
When Government Cut was dredged in 2014, Foord and his friends organized the Miami Coral Rescue Mission to preserve the corals affected by blasting and silt residue. The coral seen on the CCC was found to be more resistant to diseases, thermal bleaching, and siltation than its counterparts closer to Star Island and the MacArthur Causeway.
A few days after launching the CCC, Coral Morphologic and research ecologist Ian Enochs' ACCRETE Lab (Acidification, Climate, and Coral Reef Ecosystems Team) transplanted 30 fragments of brain coral from the less resilient coral communities into the CCC's neighborhood, creating a coral nursery. If these transplants develop genetic traits suited for survival, the nursery could help the University of Miami's Rescue-a-Reef program replenish and restore other endangered coral species, including elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) corals now grown in the university's offshore nursery in Biscayne National Park.
“By identifying the most resilient corals that they have in their nursery, it will hopefully help them concentrate their restoration efforts using the most adaptable coral strains that will continue to grow and spawn long after transplantation,” Foord says. “We also hope to add fragments of the original hybrid Acropora prolifera from Fisher Island to generate enough clones to conduct lab research with them, as it appears that this is an unusually hearty hybrid that warrants further scientific investigation.”
The CCC's mix series updates every Thursday, and last week's edition included a bubbly burst of sea sounds from electronic musician and Space Tapes label head Nick León. He says his mix was designed to be as dynamic as possible, beginning in a more ambient place before slowly speeding up “to reflect the story of how [the] coral has had to adapt to an environment that has become more chaotic and a world that is continuously increasing in speed.”
Adds León: “It has definitely inspired me to be more intentional in my work and to learn more about our own coral environment. I have been throwing on the Coral City Camera stream in the studio a lot lately for inspiration.”
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In addition to his Thursday, March 12, contribution to the CCC, León also has an EP slated for release in the next few months from the trend-setting Mexican record label NAAFI.
As for Jubilee, you can get down to her CCC mix right now and spot her as she brings these tropical sounds to life on a livestream organized by the NYC nightclub Nowadays this Saturday, March 21, between 8 p.m. and midnight.