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"Bringing It Back" in July 2019 with the New Coral Chronicles

Updated: Jul 10, 2019

100K ALL DAY!!!

BREAKING NEWS: Get ready for a MASSIVE update!

Since our beginnings in 2007, we have now outplanted over 100,000 corals! This is an incredible milestone. It shows just how much our efforts have ramped up: 23,000 of these corals were returned to the wild in 2018 alone, and so far in 2019 we have already outplanted 20,000 more! We could not have done this without all of your help and support!

Dive Program Intern, JD Reinbott, observing a wild, healthy elkhorn colony next to one of our newly outplanted elkhorn clusters at Looe Key.

In addition to outplanting our 100,000th coral, we have made major progress on our NOAA transects by recently completing our Marker 32 Elkhorn, Looe Key Elkhorn, and North Dry Rocks Elkhorn and Staghorn transects. We’ve also achieved great strides on our Pickles Reef Elkhorn, Grecian Rocks Elkhorn, Marker 32 Staghorn, and Looe Key Staghorn transects. We can’t wait to keep pushing forward through the summer!



While our elkhorn and staghorn species have been the long-standing stars of our work, at CRF™, we have multiple species that we work with in the background to help promote species diversity.

This past month, we propagated a few of our species and placed them onto new trees. Specifically, we saw an expansion of coral diversity with the propagation of our ivory bush coral (Oculina diffusa) and finger coral (Porites porites) fragments in the Tavernier Nursery. By creating all of these new fragments, we will be able to kickstart more growth in these corals and increase the amount of living tissue for all of these species. What will happen with these species in the future? We will have to wait and see!

Restoration Program Intern, Alyssa Reed, and first round intern, Jen Becker, hanging newly propagated finger coral (Porites porites) fragments onto a Coral Tree.

Left to right: Close up of a newly propagated ivory bush (Oculina diffusa) fragment; a Coral Tree filled with 60 new fragments of ivory bush (Oculina diffusa).



While our traditional methods have shown success, there is a mismatch between the scale of the problem at hand and the scale at which restoration needs to occur. In order for these efforts to have a lasting and positive impact, restoration must occur at a meaningful and ecological scale. The question becomes: how do we scale up restoration and overcome traditional limitations and bottlenecks?

Over the past few months, we have been attempting to tackle these limitations and bottlenecks by introducing and testing innovative, novel outplanting methods! The purpose of these methods is to get more and larger corals on the reef while circumventing our current bottleneck of producing excess corals in our nursery and not being able to outplant it fast enough.

Some of our current methods being tested include outplanting multiple fragments at once on a bamboo structure and securing multiple, larger coral colonies down to the reef using hemp rope, as shown below:

Overhead shot and close up of large coral colonies outplanted using hemp rope.

“These novel techniques represent the next evolution in the CRF model - one that will allow us to begin returning critically endangered corals to reef at a scale that is immediately relevant from an ecological perspective. By outplanting large, mature colonies, we are not only introducing structural and biological complexity to the reefs very quickly, but we are also accelerating the reefs’ natural process of recovery via sexual reproduction of corals.”

- Alex Neufeld, CRF™ Special Projects Coordinator

This “novel outplanting” project is being conducted under permits from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The next few months will bring more plans to initiate these efforts on two new reefs and continuing to monitor the success of these novel methods. We cannot wait to see what the future holds with these endeavors!



Recently, Restoration Associate, Paige Carper, presented her Master’s work during her time at Jacksonville University at our monthly Sips and Science event.

Restoration Associate, Paige Carper, presenting the species she worked with during her masters. Picture credit: Tiffany Duong

Paige’s work focused on researching living and non-living factors on three separate species of coral outplants: mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata), great star coral (Montastrea cavernosa), and brain coral (Pseudodiploria clivosa).

To test which species would be most resilient and successful for restoration, Paige performed predatory exclusion treatments, changed the orientation between outplants, and combined the two tests. Within these tests, she measured coral bite marks, fish assemblages, coral conditions, and growth rates.

One of the results she discovered was that O. faveolatta proved to be the species most resistant to stressful environments suggesting that it would do well if used in restoration work, as we do here at CRF™!

A great crowd here at our monthly Sips & Science event! Picture credit: Tiffany Duong

Check out our Facebook Live video to see Paige’s full presentation, and join us July 24th at 6PM at our Exploration Center for our next Sips and Science event with Matz Indergard!


"Bringing It Back" Editorial Intern

Austin is from Indiana and graduated from Indiana University with degrees in Animal Behavior and Biology, a certificate in Underwater Resource Management, and a minor in Psychology. During his time at CRF, Austin has been working on testing plastic free materials for our nursery trees, novel outplanting methods, and has begun working with our pillar coral fragments. Austin is now excited to take on the role of a Restoration Program Intern and be one of the co-authors of “Bringing It Back”.

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