Updated: Jul 5, 2022
OVER 11,000 CORALS RETURNED TO THE REEF IN JUNE!
A noticeable change has taken affect along the keys as dive conditions have changed to calm, flat waters. This has allowed Coral Restoration Foundation™ (CRF™) to conduct nearly daily trips to our nurseries and reef restoration sites.
CRF™ divers can return hundreds of corals to the wild in just one day! That number gets bigger with every volunteer we add to our mission. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
CRF™ works with 20 species of coral and actively returns 4 species of hard stony corals to the wild including: Acropora cervicornis (staghorn), Acropora palmata (elkhorn), and two species of boulder coral. Our total coral outplants for all of June 2022 total over 11,000! This beats our own record which we set last year by returning 8,000 corals to the wild in one month.
Time for the breakdown! 11,285 corals outplanted in June 2022 across 7 Reefs: Carysfort, North Dry Rocks, Pickles, Alligator, Cheeca, Sombrero, Eastern Dry Rocks. Our teams returned 6,241 staghorn, 4,329 elkhorn, and 715 boulder corals. This accounts for 22% of our total outplants for the year!
Each of our restoration sites acts as a refuge of biodiversity and we are hopeful that with support from our staff, interns, and volunteers we will continue to return thousands of corals to the reef every week helping to jumpstart the ecosystem's natural recovery processes by seeding the reef with life.
CRF™ staghorn corals thrive alongside a natural boulder coral colony. ©Alexander Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™
Looe Key Coral Tree™ Nursery Expansion
As our reef restoration efforts amp up in the lower keys our Restoration Team has been hard at work building a new open ocean Coral Tree™ nursery near Looe Key to help increase our coral stock and reduce the transportation time of each coral from our nurseries to their reefs.
We have already installed 100 duckbill anchors which are the attachment points for each Coral Tree™. We have also installed 23 trees, 10 of which are raising staghorn coral and 13 raising elkhorn coral. The addition of the new nursery as the nursery will eliminate lengthy coral transportation trips and being able to take coral from Looe Key Nursery and only have to transport them 10-20 minutes will decrease the time the coral are handled which will also reduce stress.
CRF™ divers map out the location of our Looe Key Coral Tree™ Nursery ©Jess Levy/Coral Restoration Foundation™
Our Restoration Team is also happy to announce there was no damage left behind after the first tropical storm of the season, Tropical Storm Alex, for both the Key West Nursery and Looe Key nursery. Later this year we hope to increase elkhorn and boulder coral outplant numbers in lower key outplant sites between Looe Key and Key West. With the addition of the new nursery, boulder and elkhorn coral will be able to grow much closer to the reef sites where the corals will eventually be returned.
Our upper keys restoration team also has exciting expansion news to share. Our flagship Nursery, Carysfort Nursery, located near the iconic Carysfort Lighthouse received an additional 66 duckbill anchors thanks to the support of ForceBlue supported by funding from United Way of Collier County and the Keys, (stay tuned for an full story on that adventure!). The additional trees will be used to grow staghorn coral and our restoration staff and CRF™ interns will be rearranging sections to organize the boulder and elkhorn section. Keeping our nurseries organized and each coral species in their own section is essential for underwater navigation. This expansion will allow for larger quantity of coral stock to grow in Carysfort, helping to reach our massive coral outplant goals. The upper keys team is also happy to announce there was no damage to the trees in the upper key’s nurseries. Our team is excited to continue outplanting throughout the summer as dive conditions are great for outplanting.
CRF™ divers work in our Tavernier Coral Tree™ Nursery, the largest in the world, capable of raising 30,000 reef-ready corals each year. ©Alexander Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™
Bringing it Back Editorial Intern
Alex Walker is originally from St. Louis, Missouri. A recent graduate from the University of
Kansas, receiving his Bachelor of Science in Geology. At 10 years old he passed his junior open water diver test. His love for marine life grew as he progressed in dive certifications. At age 16, Alex received his Master Scuba Diver certification. He says he feels very fortunate to have experienced many amazing dives during his dive training and exploring. Alex joined Coral Restoration Foundation™ to give back and protect the reefs he loves while learning how to restore marine environments and teach future generations how to do the same. Alex is excited to explore the crossroad of Geology and Marine Conservation during his time with Coral Restoration Foundation™!
Coral Chronicles Editor
Madalen Howard is CRF's Communications and Outreach Coordinator. 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.