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"Bringing it Back" in December 2022 with the Coral Chronicles


2022 RESTORATION YEAR IN REVIEW

In January with bright eyes and 7mm wetsuits our restoration team set out early many mornings towards a record setting year. Besides setting a new record of outplants (stay tuned for those numbers to be announced on our social media) 2022 was a year filled with nursery expansions.


Carysfort, Looe, and Key West all saw significant growth in the number of trees and the types of corals grown there. This work would be impossible without the help of our partners and volunteers. Thank you for making all this possible!

CRF™ Divers lay out ground work for Looe Key Nursery expansion taking place throughout 2022. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

In March we stocked our gene banks full of Orbicella annularis (boulder star coral) and Orbicella faveolata (mountainous star coral). Additionally we fragmented colonies of purple Montastraea cavernosa (great star coral) for the first time in CRF history. These corals had previously been at our shallow water coral rescue nursery adjusting to the open water conditions of the reef after having been rescued from electrical pylons by the Florida Keys Electrical Co-op and Ocean Reef Club in 2021.

Large "brood stock" boulder corals are now housed in our Tavernier Coral Nursery Gene Bank! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

In April and May conditions allowed us to increase our outplanting. Eager to surpass the 35,000 corals record we set in 2021 we outplanted 876 corals in one day with ten divers in the water.

“These kinds of days are by far the most fun. Putting corals back onto the reef is what it’s all about and I could not be more thrilled to see fields of newly planted corals where before there was only gray rock.” says Restoration Program Intern Will.

Coral Restoration Foundation returns tens of thousands of corals to the wild each year! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

In June we outplanted 3,015 corals in a gorgeous two week weather window. In July thanks to help from Force Blue special operations veterans divers we completed our Carysfort Nursery expansion. They assisted our team with installing and populating 66 new Coral Trees bringing the total trees at Carysfort to 231and the number of production corals to over 25,000 at full capacity! In August we bested ourselves again by planting over 7,000 corals during a flat-calm and beautiful two week weather window.

Force Blue joins CRF™ to assist in our Carysfort Nursery expansion making it possible for CRF to care for 25,000 corals in just one nursery! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

In September we began expansion at our Looe Key and Key West Nurseries. We have installed about 70 Coral Trees and now the Key West nursery hosts the first non-Acroporid corals in the Lower Keys region for CRF™. Now we can incorporate more species diversity for a resilient reef, reduce transport stress for corals, and can service two Mission: Iconic Reefs sites Newfound Harbor and Looe Key. By the end of our expansions Looe Key will hold 100 trees and have a capacity for over 6,000 corals all for outplanting at Lower Keys sites and our Key West Nursery will have 160 trees and nearly 10,000 corals.

CRF's Key West Nursery saw major expansion in 2022 and by the end of our plans it will hold 160 Coral Trees and 10,000 corals! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

In October CRF™ acted as the local hosts for Reef Futures, the largest gathering of coral reef restoration practitioners, scientists, managers and funders.. Hosted by the Coral Restoration Consortium at the Ocean Reef Club, Reef Futures was epic. CRF™ met up with other coral restoration practitioners from around the globe to discuss the future of coral restoration at large. Topics ranged from outplanting methods to science communication!

CRF™ acted as the local hosts for Reef Futures 2022! ©Coral Restoration Consortium


In November we saw that the intern designed “mega- Coral Tree” survived its first trials at sea. The Megatree was designed by intern Will Stange who was tasked to increase the productivity of Boulder Coral Trees without expanding the footprint of a nursery. This will become increasingly important as the number of boulder corals needed to outplant increases dramatically in later stages of NOAA’s Mission: Iconic Reefs.

Finally in December expansions at Looe Key continued with coral transfers from Carysfort and Tavernier Nurseries. More interestingly, we are thrilled to know that our work can support other restoration projects. In early november, we were contacted by researchers from the Univeristy of Miami who suffered a loss at their offshore coral nursery during Hurricane Nicole. They need to rebuild their Staghorn coral stock and we had plenty to spare at our Tavernier and Carysfort nurseries. The boats were loaded and ready to go when on a chilly December morning CRF donated several hundred coral colonies which now are under the care of the research team at UM.

Lastly, stay tuned for the grand announcement to the question everybody’s asking - how many corals did we outplant this year? We’ll share the answer on our social media on December 31st!

 

Bringing it Back Editorial Interns

Will Stange grew up in Princeton, NJ and is a graduate of Cornell University. As an

undergraduate he competed on the Varsity swim team and in the U.S. 2016 Olympic trials. A reverence for nature and the spark he felt when submerged in the brine during summertime open water ocean races motivated Will to aspire to a career in ocean conservation. After earning his BS in marine ecology Will moved to Key Largo where he found work at local restaurants at night so he could earn his dive certifications by day. Will feels grateful for the past two years spent working as a divemaster on Key Largo where he has been able to witness firsthand what he had previously only seen in books or documentaries. As part of the CRF team Will is excited to give everything he can towards restoring our nations iconic barrier reefs.


Sol Yoder has always had an appreciation for the natural world. As a young teenager, she

lived on the coast of Ecuador and visited the Galapagos Islands for the first time. This experience not only enhanced her interest and love for the ocean and wildlife, but put her on the path to pursue a career in marine biology. She became SCUBA certified at 18, and achieved her PADI Instructor rating by 21. She has worked as a PADI professional while also graduating with her B.S in Biological Sciences from Florida Atlantic University. Since graduating from FAU, Sol has assisted in various wildlife studies that focus on the conservation of species, such as sea turtles, manta rays, and now corals. She couldn’t be more excited to be part of CRF and help restore Florida’s coral reef!

 

Coral Chronicles Editor

Madalen Howard is CRF's Communications and Outreach Coordinator. She comes to CRF™ via a winding road from the Tennessee hills, to the South Carolina low country, ending here in Florida’s Coral Reef. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Marine Biology and a Minor in Environmental Studies from the College of Charleston in 2016. Her experience ranges from field research to education, marketing and digital communications.

With CRF™ Madalen creates inclusive pathways to scientific discovery through content creation and by building and fostering relationships with press, digital media creators, and local community members. Throughout her life Madalen has had a skill connecting people with nature, and is excited to bring people into the world of coral restoration.


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