It was recently announced that Oceans Reefs and Aquariums, otherwise known as ORA, was under new ownership as of June 30th. The sale of the company came as a surprise to most of us, and many hobbyist immediately became concerned that the new owners might change the way ORA does things. Fortunately, the new owners only have plans of expanding ORA’s operations, which hopefully means more awesome aquacultured corals from the company in the very near future. Despite the news, there was almost no information about who the new owners are, so we contacted Dustin Dorton, president and CEO of ORA, via email and here’s what he had to say.
In 2007 Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) became part of Florida Atlantic University. The for-profit enterprises such as ORA that had been part of HBOI were retained by the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation. The Foundation’s non-profit mission is sponsor marine research and it was determined that the for-profit operating businesses would be divested. The divestiture was a very long process as it was important to the Foundation that the new owners would continue advancing ORA’s mission. The Associates of ORA are ecstatic that we have finally worked our way through the process and have ownership committed to continuing the great work we’ve come to expect of our company.
The family that purchased ORA does not have a history in the marine ornamental or aquarium trades. Kerri Malett is the Principal Owner, she was featured prominently in our initial announcement regarding the change of ownership. Their interest in aquaculture led them to ORA. After experiencing first hand the impact ORA has had on various aspects of the aquarium trade, they worked with the Foundation to effect a sale of ORA and our subsidiary Marshall Islands Mariculture Farm. ORA will continue to expand on its 7 acre facility located within the HBOI campus located in Ft. Pierce, Florida.
This email message between the AquaNerd Blog and ORA president and CEO Dustin Dorton was used with written permission from Dustin and may not be republished without consent.
It is somewhat surprising that the new owner of ORA is actually a family and not previously associated with the aquarium industry. It goes to show just how influential ORA has been over the past several years and hopefully the new owners continue on with the same goals with an even more intense passion. We would like to thank Dustin for sharing this bit of information with us and we wish the company continued success.