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"Bringing it Back" in August 2020 with the Coral Chronicles


At CRF™, we pride ourselves on pushing the boundaries of coral restoration to get the maximum number of healthy corals back onto the reef. Our work at Carysfort Reef is expanding, and so is our need for coral stock in our Carysfort Nursery, specifically elkhorn.

Because we will be reorganizing the nursery as we expand, it's a perfect time to begin moving Coral Trees around to make future work more efficient. This nursery expansion will help the CRF™ Team build out nursery capacity and increase the ability support key restoration initiatives such as Mission: Iconic Reefs.

A visiting barracuda swims through the nursery while divers work on an elkhorn tree. © Alex Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™

To start the expansion process, we first need to install the anchors, known as duckbills, to help secure the Coral Trees to the sea floor. Once we have the new duckbills set in place; we can start reorganizing the current trees.

In our production nurseries, each tree holds a single genotype. The naming convention of all of our corals is based on the species (Apal: Acropora palmata, Acer: Acropora cervicornis, Ofav: Orbicella faveolata, etc.) followed by a number to differentiate the separate genetic individuals. Just like the work that was completed earlier this summer at our Tavernier Nursery, we are taking the time to put our species' genotypes in numerical order. This ordering makes it easier to find specific genotypes when collecting for outplanting purposes and performing nursery maintenance. 

Darcy Justin, CRF™ Dive Program Program Intern, moves a staghorn tree in the Carysfort Nursery. © Coral Restoration Foundation™

After things are organized and well planned out, we will be able to add in the new trees, collect coral fragments from the existing trees, and then hang them on the new trees. When it comes to restoration efforts, timing is everything.

Since our elkhorn outplant goals at Carysfort have been met, fragging the elkhorn stock won’t impede our outplanting capabilities. Fragmenting the corals later in the year also gives those smaller fragments plenty of time to grow and establish themselves as larger, reef-ready, colonies for next year’s outplanting season!

Divers work with elkhorn coral in the Tavernier Nursery. © Alex Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™

Before the expansion, we had 50 elkhorn trees in the Carysfort Nursery. With this expansion, each of our elkhorn genotypes now has a second tree, doubling the size of our elkhorn section! In total, the Carysfort Nursery now has over 160 trees. This increase in stock is a big step forward in expanding our restoration efforts on Carysfort Reef.



This year has been full of unknowns, but it has allowed us to focus even more on our mission at CRF™. And even though it’s been hard without the extra hands of our amazing volunteers, we've slowly but surely checked a lot of things off our list this summer!

Newly outplanted staghorn corals on Pickles Reef in May 2020. © Coral Restoration Foundation™

Like everyone around the world, this year hasn’t gone entirely according to plan. Having to reduce our number of hands in the water early into our outplanting season made it difficult to know whether we would complete our annual outplanting goals.

However, with favorable dive conditions and our core team of dedicated divers (both staff and interns), this month we completed our outplanting goal at Pickles Reef! This is a huge accomplishment given new circumstances, and we are immensely proud of our restoration team. All of our divers have been putting in maximum effort, and we are getting back into our stride.

In the month of June, across various outplanting sites and species, we outplanted 2,940 corals to the reef. In July, we outplanted 5,740 corals! That’s almost double from the previous month!

CRF™ Restoration Associate, Becca Creighton, outplants staghorn on Pickles Reef. © Shane Gallimore/Coral Restoration Foundation™

Even though this year has been filled with its own challenges, we're still making great progress, like finishing our Pickles Reef goals. In this next month, we are turning our focus to our staghorn and boulder coral goals for Carysfort Reef. 

CRF™ dive boat, The Dusky, on the water. © Alex Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™

The CRF™ crew has really stayed true to the mission and approached these challenging times with positivity and rigor. We are excited to see what lies ahead, but our team will always be ready to roll with the punches. Thank you to everyone who's lent support, whether it’s sending donations, letters, or offering a helping hand whenever possible. We could not do this without you all!


"Bringing It Back" Editorial Team

Ellen graduated with a B.S. in Marine Science and a minor in Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior from Rutgers University in 2017. Growing up in New Jersey, her summers were largely spent boogie-boarding and building sand castles at the Jersey shore. It was her first Discover Scuba in Bermuda at the age of 13, however, that sparked her passion for coral reefs and diving. During her undergrad at Rutgers she took part in a study abroad program in Little Cayman, where she monitored the bleaching severity of corals around the island and had her first coral nursery and outplanting experience. It was here that she learned about Coral Restoration Foundation™, and it quickly became her dream to be a part of the CRF™ team.  Recently, she completed her divemaster certification and is absolutely ecstatic about joining the CRF™ team in beautiful Key Largo.  She is excited to do her part to restore this amazing ecosystem and hopes to inspire others to protect and conserve it for generations to come.

Haley recently graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with her Bachelors in Marine Biology. Haley grew up in Yuba City, California, a small agricultural community. Even though she didn’t have many experiences at the ocean growing up, she always knew it was something worth protecting and discovering. Going to college near the beautiful California kelp forests, she couldn’t help but want to get into the ocean and begin diving. In her studies she was able to do research in the Mediterranean off of Corsica on invertebrate forging behavior. It was through her research that she discovered her love for conducting marine science. After graduating, she had the pleasure of visiting Saudi Arabia and was able to dive on the Red Sea reefs. This lead her to CRF™ to better understand coral restoration efforts and to fuel her curiosity of implementing science to restore our world’s oceans.

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