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Bringing it Back" in February 2021 with the Coral Chronicles

Updated: Sep 7, 2021


In 2020 Coral Restoration Foundation™ began rescuing wild corals from construction areas. We remove them from man-made structures, relocate them to our shallow water nursery, monitor them for disease, and return them to the reef! This rescue mission has proven more fulfilling than we ever expected. We’ve rescued many corals including a massive colony of ivory bush coral which measured over 3 feet in diameter!

Last month, our coral rescue dives occurred on the electrical pilings by Tea Table Bridge off the coast of Islamorada. One day our Restoration team came across a huge ivory bush coral. It was so large our team had to devise a special plan to safely remove the entire colony.

After identifying the species and formulating a removal strategy, 3 people with thin scrapers carefully and slowly separated the coral from the piling. It was so heavy our dive team also had to create a buoyancy rig from surface marker buoys and extra line to float the coral to the surface.

Members of the Restoration Team show off their beautiful find, a massive ivory bush coral (Oculina diffusa). ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

Once at the surface, the coral didn’t even fit into one of our 3ft x 2 ft blue water bins that we typically use for coral transportation! However, we were able to fragment the sample into smaller corals, and transport each of them safely to our coral nursery.

Our Tavernier nursery is already home to a few samples of ivory bush coral, and we are excited to expand the gene pool with this new addition. We aim to include these new genotypes in our future coral restoration efforts, supporting the expansion of our work, and increasing the biodiversity of Florida’s Coral Reef!



As CRF™ has grown we have been able to extend our restoration efforts to reefs throughout the Florida Keys, covering reefs from Key Largo all the way to Key West!

Each of our restoration sites is selected based on multiple factors, including topography and historical restoration success. Our selections are made in collaboration with scientists and restoration experts from NOAA and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Our restoration site selections are made to best support the entire reef tract’s recovery!

Coral Trees seen in the crystal-clear waters of our Key West nursery. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

Our Key West nursery was established in 2011 and currently houses 50 Coral Trees filled with staghorn and elkhorn coral. To support our continued growth and restoration expansion, we are adding 100 new Coral Trees™ to our Key West nursery! These new trees are scheduled to be in place by the end of March, where more corals than ever will grow to support our outplanting efforts. By the end of our expansion, the Key West nursery will be the third largest production nursery in our operations!



Our Restoration team is excited to have Bailey Thomasson join them for the Spring 2021 internship! Originally from North Carolina, Bailey has been an intern at CRF™ since May 2020.

Throughout her first two terms, Bailey learned new restoration skills while diving and trained new interns. Serving as the Broward Program Intern in Fall 2020, she focused on education and developed a relationship with a Girl Scouts of the Tropics troop.

Restoration Program Intern Bailey Thomasson working in our Key West nursery. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

As the Restoration Program Intern, Bailey is planning and executing the expansion of our Key West nursery. She is excited to spend her final months at CRF™ gaining more boating experience, learning about genotype selection for our coral nurseries, and further developing her dive leadership skills.



Madalen Howard is CRF's Marketing Associate. Madalen 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, and communications.

Madalen spent the last 4 years as a Field Instructor and Social Media Strategist for MarineLab Environmental Education Center. Here she was able to study and teach marine ecology, while snorkeling through mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs every day. While at MarineLab she combined her education and research background, entered the world of communications, and developed MarineLab’s social media department from the ground up.

Throughout her life Madalen has had a skill connecting people with nature. With CRF™, she is excited to bring people into the world of coral restoration, creating inclusive pathways to scientific discovery.

"Bringing It Back" Editorial Intern

Bailey grew up on a lake in North Carolina, and has felt connected to the water for as long as she can remember. When she was 10 years old, she got SCUBA certified and started taking annual diving trips to Florida where she saw first-hand the decline of coral reefs in the Keys. Knowing that she wanted to make a career in marine conservation, she joined an Operation Wallacea expedition to Greece where she learned field work skills.

Bailey graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 with a major in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Marine Science. During her four years there, she worked as a research assistant investigating how the calcium carbonate skeleton of corals are affected by ocean warming and acidification. Most recently, she worked as a summer camp educator at the Discovery Place Nature Museum in North Carolina where she taught students about the natural environment and how to protect it. Bailey is so excited for the opportunity to work with Coral Restoration Foundation™ towards its mission of restoring coral reefs

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