Recently two members of our restoration team, Andrew and Dan, successfully completed a Mako compressor maintenance course for the end-user under the instruction of Rob Bleser with Breathing Air Concepts at Quiescence Diving Services! Compressors are high-pressure engines that compress and purify air through several stages from normal breathing pressure, 14.7 psi to 3,000 psi, to fill tanks that our divers use every day.
During this course, our Restoration Associates learned about the many components of a compressor, such as how to identify common engine problems and the best techniques to fix it! In addition, they learned how to replace seals, filters, and o-rings within the compressor system. These seemingly simple tasks serve as a critical step in preventative maintenance. By replacing these elements of the compressor, we are able to ensure high air quality which is required for the safety of our divers, as well as to extend the life of the piston in the compressor!
Here at CRF™, diving is paramount to completing daily tasks, such as nursery maintenance, coral outplanting, and monitoring. With up to 50 tanks used daily, it is important that we perform regular upkeep on our compressor to increase work-space safety and the longevity of the system in order to spend more time underwater restoring our reefs!
A TABLE SET WITH CORAL
Here at CRFTM, one of our goals is to increase the species and preserve genetic diversity of corals housed within our nursery program. While our nursery is self-sustaining-- meaning we no longer need to harvest coral fragments from the wild - occasionally, coral colonies need to be rescued in order to preserve their genotype.
For example, many of our club finger tip coral, massive starlet coral, mustard hill coral, and diffuse ivory bush coral were collected from colonies living under Long Key Bridge that would have otherwise been killed during construction work.
Recently, the restoration team constructed a brand new coral table and deployed it in Tavernier Nursery! It is placed at a level in the water column that optimizes coral growth by discouraging sedimentation and colonization by competitors in the area. The hope is that, in the future, this table will serve as an area in the nursery for rescued corals. Corals that may suffer from construction come from a challenging environment; it is possible that their resilience to low light and shallow water conditions may diversify the gene pool of encrusting and bouldering coral species!
When the time comes, the restoration team will employ different methodologies for growing, fragging, and outplanting unique species like club tip finger coral. We hope that this table will provide us with opportunities to create a refuge for corals, diversify our gene pools, and increase the number of species outplanted in the future!
PICKLES REEF DECIMATED BY ANCHOR DRAG
For every coral outplanted, the restoration team collects monitoring data one month and one year after being placed on the reef. This is done in order to determine survivorship, growth, and the presence of disease and competitors impacting the corals. This past month, an anchor drop and drag decimated a stretch of Pickles Reef, a site where CRF™ frequently outplants corals. While the one-month-old elkhorn outplants remained on the reef, well-established elkhorn corals were not as fortunate.
It is evident from the damage assessment and a missing mooring buoy that a boat dropped its anchor and proceeded to drag the anchor over this critical site. The group of elkhorn outplants affected by this anchor drag date back to as early as 2014; these corals survived Hurricane Irma only to be wiped out by someone carelessly dropping an anchor on the reef. The established elkhorn corals were fractured at their bases, and our restoration team witnessed fragments scattered across the ocean floor during their monitoring trip.
It is incredibly discouraging to see years of restoration progress be negated by improper boating practices. The outcome of an anchor drag of this magnitude is often permanent loss of corals. Fortunately, our restoration team was able to act quickly and reattach as many viable clusters of resilient elkhorn corals as possible. In our official statement, learn more about how to prevent a tragedy such as this from reoccurring.
"Bringing It Back" Editorial Intern
Krista is from Quincy, Massachusetts and is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington with degrees in Marine Biology and Psychology as well as a minor in Neuroscience. She grew up on the ocean and first got the conservation bug when she watched as horseshoe crabs and seagrass beds near her home began to disappear. Throughout her undergraduate career, she took an interest in animal behavior and neurobiology and most recently conducted research in lifespan changes in the brains of sharks. She has worked closely with the New England Aquarium as an aquarist intern and conservation volunteer, as well as the National Estuarine Research Reserve in Homer, Alaska studying the foraging ecology of sea otters. In terms of diving, she got certified in high school but attributes her passion for the sport to her internship with the Boston Sea Rovers. Most recently, she obtained her PADI Divemaster certification as well as AAUS scientific diver and was proud to serve as the President of her university’s SCUBA Club. Krista is overjoyed to finally combine her passions of marine conservation, diving, and outreach to make lasting impacts on the local reef systems through her internship with the Coral Restoration Foundation™!