Pilot Phase

The Coral Ark, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, has already secured the rights to rent a 16,000 square foot warehouse facility just steps away from SDC – ERI and immediately adjacent to LAX. This facility will facilitate up to approximately 50,000 gallons of holding capacity which can easily accommodate the early space requirements of the program. The facility’s proximity to SDC – ERI will also allow convenient access to new species and distribution of farmed specimens to the aquarium industry.

In terms of specialized labor, the Coral Ark has already sourced a team of talented and experienced coral aquaculture biologists. Renowned coral biologist, Dr. Craig Downs provides world-class leadership, knowledge, experience, and entrée to a multitude of restoration opportunities worldwide.

Based out of this facility it is contemplated that a pilot coral reef restocking effort will be launched within the first year of inception. In this respect, Dr. Downs has already been approached by multiple governments to implement similar efforts.

Project Management

The Coral Ark will be directed and managed by Robert Miller and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization approved by the IRS.
Robert Miller

Mr. Miller is a published marine research biologist with a post graduate education in Biological Oceanography and Fisheries. Having earned multiple academic honors, he has extensive experience in all phases of marine aquaculture including system design/construction, culture protocol, nutrition, husbandry, chemistry, program design/management, disease, and genetics.

Mr. Miller also has C-level executive experience in business management in a diversity of spaces. Over the last 30 years Robert has formed and managed multiple companies and has served as CEO of a publicly traded corporation. Robert currently acts as the CFO, Managing Partner, and senior biologist of Sea Dwelling Creatures, Inc. the world’s largest wholesale distributor of aquarium animals and supplies.

The Coral Ark is also honored to announce the involvement of the following participants:

Dr. Craig Downs

Craig graduated from Hiram College with a B.A. in philosophy and biology. He received his M.Sc. from Syracuse University where he co-discovered the function of the chloroplast and mitochondrial small heat-shock proteins in plants, as well as the mitochondrial small heat-shock protein in mammals. He received his Ph.D. from the John a Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii in cell and molecular biology. Craig has published over 50 scientific papers and a number of book chapters in scientific textbooks, and is Co-Editor of the CRC Press veterinary book, Diseases of Corals. Craig founded and was chief executive of two biotechnology companies, and co-founded two other biotech companies. These companies focused on developing various technological platforms for clinical and cellular diagnostics, as well as immuno-therapeutics. Craig has also founded a number of non-profit organizations whose focus ranges from animal welfare to environmental conservation and exploration. Craig has held positions as research professor at University of Hawaii’s School of Medicine and Sweet Briar College, and is currently a visiting professor at Sorbonne University in France.

In collaboration with international scientists, Craig help invent a method for tissue propagation of coral; taking a very small piece of coral tissue, and able to grow it into a coral colony. Craig also developed the formal method of micro-fragmentation for coral propagation, based off of the Israeli method for coral fragmentation for propagation. Craig invented a method for cryopreservation of coral tissue, which can be later thawed and grown into a colonial coral. He received a $0.5million US Small Business Innovation Research award from the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration to further refine this cryopreservation method, but also develop formal coral husbandry techniques based on scientific testing. He partnered with the University of Oxford and the Zoological Society of London to establish the Global Coral Repository. Craig has established a number of coral culture facilities around the world, both for basic scientific research, as well as for coral reef ecological restoration.

Dorothy Leonard

Dorothy (Dot) Leonard graduated from Syracuse University and completed graduate courses at George Washington University.  Her commitment to the restoration of coastal areas began at the local, New York State level and then nationally with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in fisheries and ocean services. At NOAA, Dot led a team to produce the 1985, 1990 and 1995 Register of Classified Shellfish Growing Areas. The project covered the mapping and data on over 5,200 growing areas in 26 states. The final reports tracked declines in water quality, pollution sources and loss of shellfish and made recommendations for the restoration of shellfish growing waters. In 1997, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources requested her services on detail as Director of Fisheries Service. The main objectives were to start an oyster restoration program In Chesapeake Bay. More recently, Dot produced Best Management Practices for Shellfish Restoration: guidelines for shellfish restoration to mitigate problems of degraded water quality, diminishing populations of shellfish and habitat loss while protecting public health.

Dot is the Founder and Co-Chair of the International Conference on Shellfish Restoration.  In 1995, she brought together scientists, resource managers, and government officials to consider how community, regional, national and international partnerships could help the shellfish restoration process.  The move toward restoration of coastal areas with a focus on shellfish spread internationally with meetings in Canada and throughout Europe and Australia. This year the ICSR will take place in Australia, Ireland and planning is underway for 2021 in Europe.

Dot has a major commitment to the conservation and restoration of coral reefs with the primary goal to collect, analyze, identify, and preserve healthy ocean coral for both archival and restoration purposes. These efforts include the development of the technologies and scientific foundation for coral aquaculture and animal husbandry and, most importantly, the restoration of representative coral reefs throughout the world.

Mira Sorvino

Academy award winning Actress and United Nations Goodwill ambassador Mira Sorvino first began expressing her passion for social justice at Harvard University, where she received two Ford Foundation grants to research her summa thesis on Racial Conflict between Chinese and African students in the PRC, which was awarded the coveted Hoopes Prize. Upon graduation, she researched and interviewed Russophilic neo-Nazi leaders for a documentary on the rise of anti-Semitism in Russia, “Freedom to Hate,” which she associate produced.

She was the official ambassador for Amnesty International’s “Stop Violence Against Women” campaign from 2004 to 2008. Her work with Amnesty was recognized at the Artivist Film Festival. In March 2006, she was honored with Amnesty International’s Artist of Conscience Award. She lobbied Capitol Hill on the topic of Human Trafficking and officially testified before Congress on the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

Having supported the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime anti-trafficking initiatives since 2007, in 2009 Sorvino was appointed to her current position as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Goodwill Ambassador in the Global Fight Against Human Trafficking. She has traveled to Mexico and Spain to launch the U.N.’s Blue Heart Campaign to fight Human Trafficking, and to London and Bangkok, Thailand to promote the recently created U.N. Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking. She has participated in public forums in Luxor, Egypt, at the Niemeyer Center in Aviles, Spain, Baku Azerbaijan, and in Washington D.C.. In each locale, Sorvino works together with NGOs on the ground and members of government and law enforcement to better synthesize efforts to discover and protect victims, and punish perpetrators of, Human Trafficking. In Fall 2010 she was honored for her work by Save The Children, and in December 2010, the U.N. awarded her “Global Advocate of the Year.” She has participated in sessions to create the UN General Assembly’s Global Plan of Action to Combat Human Trafficking. She represented UNODC at the Vatican at the 2nd Annual Conference on Modern Day Slavery and the collaboration between the church and law enforcement. She regularly addresses the UN General Assembly.

She has testified before the US Senate on Human Trafficking, helped engender legislative change at the National Conference of State Legislators, spoken at the National Association of Attorneys General, the American Bar Association, the Mashable Social Good Summit, and the Deloitte Center to reform state laws on human trafficking and domestic minor victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, as well as speaking at Harvard, Delta Airlines, and in conferences in Sweden and Aruba.

Collaborating with the CNN Freedom project, she led Jim Clancy on a discovery of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and Hotline, narrated the documentary “Mozambique or Bust,” and was the on-the-ground interviewer in the award-winning documentary “Everyday in Cambodia” on the crisis of virgin sales in Phnom Penh. She participated in the ECPAT documentary “What I’ve Been Through is Not Who I Am” (one of many collaborations with ECPAT), and acted in the dramatic films on modern day slavery, “Human Trafficking” and “Trade of Innocents” and wrote the foreword to “Walking Prey” on the vulnerability of US youth to sex trafficking. She will be seen in 2020 in the 20th Century Fox feature “Sound of Freedom” opposite Jim Caviezel, which highlights the child trafficking victim rescue Operation Underground Railroad (OURescue).

In the fall of 2017 Sorvino was one of the first women to come forward about Harvey Weinstein’s Sexual Misconduct in Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker exposé. She has emerged as one of the most prominent voices of #MeToo and #TimesUp and has received several honors for her advocacy including from UCLA for both Human Trafficking and #MeToo. She has spoken at the Tribeca TimesUp summit and the Museum for Civil and Human Rights, and for the New York Times New Rules summit and the Wrap Women conference. Legislatively she helped pass the strongest slate of anti-sexual harassment bills in the country in CA with Equal Rights Advocates. Her advocacy in NY State alongside TimesUp and Governor Andrew Cuomo helped pass extensions to the statute of limitations for rape and strengthened protections against sexual harassment. . She was just awarded Humanitarian of the Year by the United Nations Association of New York for her work on Human Trafficking.

Sorvino considers herself a victims’ and survivors’ advocate and has interviewed and been inspired by many of them around the world. She is happily married to actor/writer/director Christopher Backus, and they have four lovely children.

Christopher Backus

Christopher Backus has built a diverse resume in film and in television. He has given multidimensional performances on many of televisions most critically acclaimed shows: such as David Fincher’s Mindhunter, HBO’s Big Little Lies, Cameron Crowe’s Roadies, Underground from Mischa Green, and Amazon’s noir thriller Bosch as well as the sleeper hit for HBO from Sebastian Guiterez, Jett.

Backus also took on a special role in the final season of Hell on Wheels as General George Custer, and gave a standout performance in the final season of FX’s hit show Sons of Anarchy from creator Kurt Sutter. Backus showed his comedy chops in the Comedy Central’s off-beat work place drama Workaholics as well as the long running comedy It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia on FX.

On the feature side Christopher starred in Deliverance Creek, a Nicholas Sparks’ event movie and can currently be seen in Melora Walter’s Drowing which recently appeared at the Rome Film Festival. As well as the thriller Indiscrestion, and the family drama Mothers & Daughters, Nancy Savoca’s Union Square, Ezna Sands’ Theo & Chloe, and played screen icon Marlene Dietrich in the indie My Fair Lidy. Backus has also wrapped the Paul Thomas Anderson produced directorial debut of acclaimed actress Melora Walters, Waterlily Jaguar.

Backus also sits on the board of the charity California Strong, founded by Ryan Braun, Christian Yelich, Mike Moustakas, Jared Goff and Mike Attantasio in order to provide financial relief to victims of tragedy in California. Including giving approximately two million dollars to families who suffered losses in the Wolsey and Paradise fires.

Backus married actress Mira Sorvino on July 2, 2004 in Capri, Italy. They have four children together: Mattea, Johnny, Holden and Lucia.

Eric Wagner

Eric Wagner grew up as a “fish geek” living in Pennsylvania with as many as 16 tanks set up at once in his parents’ house.  This desire to keep and breed tropical fish led to a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science/Biology from the University of Miami.  From here, Eric added a Master of Science degree in Aquaculture from Auburn University adding practical, hands-on experience in producing a wide variety of fish species to his resume.

Eric’s newfound love of aquaculture production was further cultivated in his participation in a scientific-led startup in Vero Beach, FL.  Here, Eric gained experience with a wide variety of ornamental piscine species as well as pelagic spawning food fish.  Gaining ownership of the company in 2009, Eric became the manager and operator of Proaquatix, now a recognized world leader in ornamental fish production and innovation. Coordinating the people and processes needed to produce beautiful captive-bred fish from egg to larvae to juvenile is the challenge that keeps Eric motivated and excited.

Camilo Concha

Camilo is the founder and CEO of LendingUSA, an online marketplace lender with a mission to provide smart financing for the important moments in life. LendingUSA focuses on point of need financing. Through its next generation platform Its able to provide financing in the physical (POS) as well as in the virtual world (Direct to consumer). Borrowers are provided fast, paperless loans approved within minutes with affordable financing options serving a large network of merchants covering the licensed elective medical and consumer service verticals.

In addition to LendingUSA, Camilo founded, organized and owns several successful businesses in the legal, financial and investment industries. In 1999, Camilo founded his first company, Attorney Search Network, one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing state bar-certified attorney referral services.

Beginning in 2005, Camilo expanded his internet business by creating a portfolio of internet brands to including; Pet Loans.com,DentalLoans.com, SurgeryLoans.com,BridalLoans.com,Medical Financing.com and 1800mysurgeon.com. All these brands are now part of LendingUSA.

In 2009, Camilo founded Fortress Gold Group, a financial conduit for self-directed IRA investments in precious metals. According to INC 500, the company was listed as one of the fastest-growing private companies, ranked #11 as a top financial services company, and was ranked the #1 gold firm in the U.S. in 2014. In 2016 he expanded his reach by providing the vision of BitcoinIRA.com and RealEstateIRA.com

Camilo has been a member of the YPO, Beverly Hills Chapter since 2009, and has been recognized by The United States Congress and United Chamber of Commerce for his business achievements.

Strategic Relationship

Sea Dwelling Creatures – Exotic Reef Imports

Sea Dwelling Creatures and Exotic Reef Imports have been two of the leading wholesale distributors of aquarium animals and supplies for the past 28 years. Recently merged, the company is now the largest live aquarium distributor in the world and boasts over 130,000 gallons of holding capacity just 300 feet from Los Angeles International Airport.

SDC – ERI proudly enjoy a plethora of competitive advantages within the aquarium industry:

State-of-the-art holding systems

Decades of collective experience and multiple academic degrees

Certification by virtually every recognized industry organization

Unmatched animal husbandry

Proprietary fulfillment technology

Vast supply network

Dedicated commitment to aquaculture

Huge international customer base and market reach

The Coral Ark will enter into an exclusive commercial relationship with SDC – ERI, thereby drawing on its significant assets. A wide range of coral species will be able to be economically sourced from SDC – ERI’s broad supply network and cultured frags will be distributed to the public via the company’s massive client base. Additionally, the Coral Ark will be able to leverage the collective knowledge and experience of SDC – ERI’s animal husbandry team.

Education and Promotion

A significant portion of the project’s mission statement is rooted in public education. To that effect we intend on launching an aggressive effort in three different arenas:

Aquarium industry Programs

Aquarium industry- based programs will disseminate information, live corals, and project news within the hobby.

Public Programs

Public aquarium and tourist destination programs will educate the public at large about coral reef degradation and our conservation endeavors.


Documentary and television exposure will enable a broader educational reach.

Future Plans

It is the intention of the Coral Ark to exponentially scale its operations within the first two years of inception. This will involve migrating the operation to a much larger, rural, agricultural locale to allow the housing and aquaculture of the ever-growing diversity of coral, invertebrate, and fish species that is anticipated. With the expansion of the endeavor, it is also hoped that an ever-increasing number of leading scientific personalities can be engaged and involved in ongoing efforts and public engagement.