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"Bringing It Back" in June 2020 with the Coral Chronicles



The Restoration department has welcomed two program interns for the summer 2020 term! Ellen and Haley started in the fall of 2019, and are excited to be able to continue their internships here at CRF™ as members of the Restoration Team.

This is what Ellen had to say about joining the Restoration Team:

“For me, this is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Since starting at CRF™, I knew that I loved the hard work it took to maintain our nurseries and give our corals the best chance when outplanted back on the reef. I have wanted to work in coral conservation for as long as I can remember, and when it came time for me to choose which program I wanted to work with, it was a no-brainer. The restoration staff is so helpful and I honestly feel like I learn something new every time I work with them. They're always willing to answer any questions I have about outplanting trips or days of nursery work. But they also give me the room to figure things out for myself so that I can grow within this field. I am so excited to be with them for the summer term.”

Ellen monitoring Elkhorn corals at Pickles Reef. © Shane Gallimore/Coral Restoration Foundation™

In addition to assisting our restoration associates on the water, Ellen and Haley also help out at our headquarters with guidance from CRF™ Restoration Program Manager, Jessica Levy.

During their first intern session with CRF™, Ellen and Haley worked mostly on the water, maintaining coral nurseries and outplanting coral with other first-round interns. Their second session was comprised mostly of leading new first-round interns, making their transition to CRF™ seamless. Now during their third session with the organization, they're able to focus specifically on restoration and work closely with our full-time restoration staff.

Haley had this to add:

“I feel like this internship has truly changed my life. I've always felt like coral restoration was a career that I wanted, but I never had the experience to back that up. Starting as a new intern, I wasn’t confident I could handle the pressure. But by the time I was interviewing for this program position, I had the confidence to push myself outside of my comfort zone and bring on the pressure. This summer, I'm really looking forward to learning closely from the staff and having the opportunity to expand my restoration interests even further. I'm so appreciative for this internship, especially during the complex situation we're all facing. I'm also happy to have a great friend like Ellen as a teammate.”

Top: Haley working in the Tavernier nursery. © Shane Gallimore/Coral Restoration Foundation™ Bottom: Ellen (left) and Haley (right) leading their first dive together as Restoration Program interns. © Krista Laforest/Coral Restoration Foundation™

Welcome to the team Ellen and Haley! We know you're going to keep up the great work with our restoration program.



For the past couple months, Coral Restoration Foundation™ interns have been working strictly from home. As things are slowly shifting to a new state of normalcy, we've added safety and sanitization protocols that will allow our interns to join staff on the water. CRF™ does not take this situation lightly and is working slowly and methodically with everyone’s health and safety in mind.

“We are incredibly grateful to have a relationship with several dive charters in the area; their willingness to accommodate us really shows that it takes the whole community to restore our reefs,” said Krista Laforest, CRF™ Science Program Intern.

Here in the Keys, the dive shops have been experiencing great hardships. When planning the return of our interns, we knew that larger vessels would be perfect for allowing more teams to accomplish more work but at a safe distance from one another. With support from our NOAA cooperative agreement, we were able to make new accommodations that would allow us to continue our efforts and work towards our restoration goals.

The intern crew has been eager to get back in the water. All of our interns are incredibly passionate about the wellbeing of our corals and have anxiously awaited getting back into the fray. The week of May 18th was the start of intern participation on charter boats.

“We’ve had a blast working with local dive charters. We really appreciate their flexibility and commitment to helping us reach our restoration goals," said Sabine von Lersner, CRF™ Communications Program Intern. "They are the reason we’re able to dive again. So as interns, we’re extremely thankful for their support in getting us back on the water!”

Interns working in the nursery during the first week of intern integration on charter boats. Back: Haley Hurst, Maria McCausland, Sabine Von Lersner. Front: Krista Laforest, Ellen Hudson. © Coral Restoration Foundation™

The sense of community and working hand-in-hand with local dive shops has been a beacon of hope during these difficult conditions. CRF™ aims to complete as much as possible in these vital summer months, so we are happy to have the added help of our interns and dive professionals in the community.



Along with the beginning of our busy outplanting season, the restoration staff has been hard at work rearranging the Tavernier nursery! On days that aren’t fit for outplanting, our staff has been working diligently to move the Coral Trees. The summer is our busiest outplanting season and because of this, moving the nursery as soon as possible was necessary to ensure the majority of future trips were focused on returning corals to the reef.

Temporary Reef Restoration Associate, Shane, moving a Coral Tree in our Tavernier Nursery. © Patti Kirk Gross

Our new design will help our nursery be more efficient for daily tasks as well as keep everything more organized. This rearrangement also makes room for the possibility of further expansion in the future! This would mean that we would be able to grow more coral annually to outplant, as well as make room for new species entirely. Introducing new species to the Tavernier nursery and perfecting their outplanting methods would increase coral diversity, making a healthier and more resilient ecosystem.


"Bringing It Back" Editorial Team

Ellen graduated with a B.S. in Marine Science and a minor in Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior from Rutgers University in 2017. Growing up in New Jersey, her summers were largely spent boogie-boarding and building sand castles at the Jersey shore. It was her first Discover Scuba in Bermuda at the age of 13, however, that sparked her passion for coral reefs and diving. During her undergrad at Rutgers she took part in a study abroad program in Little Cayman, where she monitored the bleaching severity of corals around the island and had her first coral nursery and outplanting experience. It was here that she learned about Coral Restoration Foundation™, and it quickly became her dream to be a part of the CRF™ team.  Recently, she completed her divemaster certification and is absolutely ecstatic about joining the CRF™ team in beautiful Key Largo.  She is excited to do her part to restore this amazing ecosystem and hopes to inspire others to protect and conserve it for generations to come.

Haley recently graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with her Bachelors in Marine Biology. Haley grew up in Yuba City, California, a small agricultural community. Even though she didn’t have many experiences at the ocean growing up, she always knew it was something worth protecting and discovering. Going to college near the beautiful California kelp forests, she couldn’t help but want to get into the ocean and begin diving. In her studies she was able to do research in the Mediterranean off of Corsica on invertebrate forging behavior. It was through her research that she discovered her love for conducting marine science. After graduating, she had the pleasure of visiting Saudi Arabia and was able to dive on the Red Sea reefs. This lead her to CRF™ to better understand coral restoration efforts and to fuel her curiosity of implementing science to restore our world’s oceans.

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