Updated: Jan 17, 2022
MEMORABLE MOMENTS OF 2021
With the new year upon us, we are taking a look back at all we accomplished in 2021 to make way for the future! If you’ve missed our previous memorable moments sections, check them out here: https://www.coralrestoration.org/reefocus-blog So, what has our Restoration Team been up to in 2021?
January, February, and March
As Coral Restoration Foundation™ has grown, so have our restoration efforts. The CRF™ Restoration Team participated in several coral rescue dives off the coast of Islamorada, resulting in the addition of 15 new coral species to our nurseries!
Meanwhile, further south in our Key West Nursery, our team began the expansion to bring our Coral Tree™ count to 100, making it the third largest CRF™ nursery, after Tavernier and Carysfort! This growth and expansion of CRF™ restoration efforts within the first few months of 2021 set the tone for the rest of the year.
CRF™ divers fill Coral Trees™ in our Key West coral nursery with fragments of coral. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
April, May, and June
CRF™ boulder coral restoration has made some incredible progress this past year. By now you may be familiar with our Coral Tree™, designed to allow branching corals to grow suspended in the water column. But have you seen our new and improved boulder Coral Tree™? Though similar to the original Coral Tree™, we attach the boulder corals to trays that then sit on branches of the trees. We began using these boulder coral trees in our nurseries and have already seen improvements in boulder coral growth!
See the improvements made to our Boulder Coral Tree™ design from year to year, ending on the right with our most recent and best design. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
Speaking of boulder corals, our Restoration Team is beyond excited to be able to outplant our two newest species, boulder star coral and mountainous star coral! With these two species thriving in our nursery, our goal is to regularly return fragments to the reef to increase the stability of the entire ecosystem! Interested in learning how we outplant boulder corals? Check out our article from this past April here.
CRF™ divers returne 4 species of coral to the wild including 2 species of boulder corals! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
Along with outplanting more than 600 boulder corals, our team also worked extremely hard to expand CRF™ restoration efforts in Key West! Expanding our nursery and outplanting hundreds of elkhorn coral to Eastern Dry Rocks aren’t the only plans for the Key West nursery; we fragmented and filled newly added Coral Trees™ with brand new genotypes! It is truly amazing to see just how much progress has been made at this new location.
One of the Restoration Team’s main goals at Coral Restoration Foundation™ is preserving the genetic diversity of our corals. Though the different species of coral found in our nurseries may look the same, their DNA are all unique. We raise and rehome corals of as many different genotypes as possible in order to allow the population the best chance of survival. To protect these genotypes CRF™ teamed up with Nova Southeastern University to establish a second duplicate genetic bank, second to our own Tavernier Nursery Gene Bank with over 400 genotypes. We are proud to take the extra step alongside Nova Southeastern University to protect the genetic diversity of wild corals.
Replicate coral fragments from our Tavernier Gene Bank are transported north to our duplicate gene bank in Broward County. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
Earlier in the year, CRF™ staff and interns worked under a Florida Keys Electric Co-Op grant to remove corals from electric pylons before they undergo construction, and house them in our nurseries until they are ready to return to the wild! It was a fun, new, challenge to remove the 5 corals from the seawall at Ocean Reef Club in north Key Largo. The star corals rescued were the first of their kind in our nursery!
July, August, and September
In September we celebrated the completion of our coral rescue contract with the Florida Keys Electric Co-op! Over the course of 20 days, we visited 138 utility poles scheduled for repair and saved over 700 corals! Even with drastic tides and ripping currents, our team still managed to save an incredible 754 different genotypes of corals! Thanks to our team's work we doubled the size of our nursery, bringing our total up to 20 distinct species! Click here to learn all about how we transported and housed these new species in our nursery.
Our rescue coral nursery off pickles reef has become the favorite stomping grounds of some friendly ocean wildlife! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
Our Coral Gene Bank got a much-needed makeover! To increase the efficiency of our restoration efforts, our team spent weeks replacing old genotype naming tags with new ones and reordered dozens of genetically diverse colonies on our coral trees. Our coral nursery is home to over 1,000 putative genotypes some of which only exist in our nurseries because they have gone extinct in the wild. The CRF™ Tavernier nursery serves as a center of coral diversity in the Florida Keys.
CRF™ now cares for over 1000 putative coral genotypes across 20 species. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
October, November, and December
The unique growth patterns observed in boulder corals provided our Restoration Team with plenty of hurdles as we expanded our boulder coral production. We were excited to publish our third white paper detailing our innovative boulder coral restoration methodology! Our most recent boulder tree design is vastly different from where we started. Here at CRF™ we hope to soon propagate and build up reef ready stocks of all our new species of boulder corals in order to bring genetically diverse coral reefs back to South Florida.
While the task of restoring an entire ecosystem is a huge undertaking, every little action makes a difference! This year's Giving Tuesday was a huge success and it was all thanks to you! We raised $40,000 in just 24 hours, meeting our goal & securing our $25,000 match! It is truly incredible to see what can be accomplished when we all come together!
Thank you all for your unending support! Together we can make a change to save our coral reefs and protect a vital ecosystem. We here at CRF™ are so proud of the progress made over the course of just one year, but our work is not done yet! We are excited to see what 2022 has in store and hope you’ll follow along! Thank you!
"Bringing It Back" Editorial Interns
"Bringing it Back: 2021 Memorable Moments" Editorial Intern
Katherine is an avid supporter and lover of the earth's health & well-being. Her goals and passions revolve around caring for the natural world. Katherine began her journey into coral conservation on an island off the northern coast of Madagascar. Inspired by the work she did, Katherine then spent time in Australia, diving the Great Barrier Reef, learning about the toll climate change has on such an important marine ecosystem. After graduating from Coastal Carolina University in May with a degree in Marine Science, Katherine currently works as a divemaster along the coast of South Carolina. Now as a CRF™ Intern, Katherine is thrilled to begin a professional career in coral conservation and restoration. When asked about this opportunity with CRF™, an organization she has looked up to for most of her life, Katherine is speechless. She cannot describe the excitement felt when thinking of how much she will learn from this experience. It has been a longstanding goal of Katherine to work at CRF™, expanding her skills and knowledge while also sharing her passion with those around her.
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.