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

Updated: Feb 14, 2022


Coral Restoration Foundation™ had an exceedingly productive year in 2021 returning just over 35,000 corals to the wild, and we are only continuing to look forward, growing our team and capabilities to match our mission of massive scale reef restoration!

©Coral Restoration Foundation™

We operate the largest in-situ coral nursery program in the world and we are constantly assessing our maintenance of each of our nurseries to provide the best care for our corals and expanding our nurseries to meet the demands of our restoration work. Our coral nurseries house 721 Coral Trees™, 50 coral tables, and over 51,000 coral fragments. And every year we can produce 45,000 reef-ready corals every year!

©Coral Restoration Foundation™

Our newest coral nursery looks and functions quite differently from the rest. Our Coral Rescue Nursery uses coral tables instead of our typical Coral Tree™ design. There are 54 tables holding a variety of coral species rescued from electrical pilings through collaborative work with the Florida Keys Electric Co-Op and Ocean Reef Club. Eventually we will transport these corals from their “half-way home” in our Coral Rescue Nursery to our largest Tree™ nursery in Tavernier. In total our nurseries can hold over 51,080 coral fragments representing 1,305 genotypes across 20 different species.

©Coral Restoration Foundation™

The conservation of genetic diversity is at the heart of Coral Restoration Foundation’s mission. Science knows that diverse ecosystems are resilient to stressors. By ensuring that we are working to support the reefs’ natural diversity, we are giving coral reefs a better chance of adapting to changing environmental conditions. Corals are resilient and have been resilient for millions of years. Like any group of organisms, however, their resiliency comes from evolution's ability to naturally select from a diverse wild population. Without a genetically diverse wild population, evolution's selective power in the face of environmental change is limited, and the population's resiliency is lessened.

©Coral Restoration Foundation™

In looking toward the future we are always working to improve and develop new techniques for our restoration efforts. Our new boulder corals outplanting technique has shown us that this type of innovation is possible and useful especially when working to increase our efficiency. Using an artificial dome, fragments of boulder corals on circular plugs can be placed into holes that line the surface. We have been testing their strength and usability in our Tavernier nursery, and aim to implement them in active restoration soon!

©Coral Restoration Foundation™

In 2021, CRF™ vigorously worked to reach outplant goals which grow larger every year. Thanks to the support of our community and the hard work of our staff, interns, and volunteers we were able to outplant a record number of corals, 35,011! This surpasses our previous record of 32,245 in 2019. We know that restoring coral reefs is going to take massive scale collaborative action and we are looking forward to continued progress for years to come.

©Coral Restoration Foundation™


"Bringing it Back" Editorial Intern

Max has been an avid scuba diver and enthusiast for all creatures and ecosystems since he was a child. From an early age, and growing up next to the ocean, Max fell in love with sea creatures and ocean life. After his first experience diving in a coral reef he knew he never wanted to leave and vowed to enter a career helping protect and research them in the hopes of lessening the effects of coral bleaching. When Max attended college at the University of Santa Cruz, he quickly got into the marine biology scene, finding the one Ph.D. candidate grad student working on coral bleaching and participating with his work. Here Max learned a lot about the biology, physiology, and chemistry that surrounds a coral animal. From the correct parameters of the environment that is necessary for a coral to thrive to the ins and outs of the symbiosis coral have with zooxanthellae. Now Max is taking his next step and working at the Coral Restoration Foundation to further develop his skills in the work needed to go into restoration and everything behind the scenes needed to make an organization like this run smoothly.

Coral Chronicles Editor

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.

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