CORAL OUTPLANTING CENTRAL
As the tumultuous wind and weather conditions of the past few months begin to calm, we are gearing up for a gorgeous summer here in the Florida Keys. Because of the calm field conditions Coral Restoration Foundation™ does the majority of our coral outplanting during the fall and summer months. The Restoration staff, interns, Dive Program participants, and long-term volunteers can ramp up efforts to a massive scale, returning thousands of corals to the wild in just a few days.
CRF™ transports hundreds of corals from our open ocean nurseries to the reef. The trips only take a few minutes to reduce stress on the corals! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
Recently we caught a glimpse of calm conditions and were able to return 3,015 corals across 6 different reef sites in just two weeks! As of now CRF™ returns 4 species of corals to the wild but cares for 20 species in our coral nurseries covering over 1,000 putative genotypes. The 4 species of coral we outplant are Acropora cervicornis (staghorn), Acropora palmata(Elkhorn), and two species of boulder corals, Orbicella annularis and Orbicella faveolata. We focus on these corals for a number of reasons but one of the most important is that these species are historically the dominant reef-building species of Florida's Coral Reef. They provide the foundation and structure of the reef tract which creates habitat for thousands of other species and protects our coastlines from storm damage.
CRF™ cares for over 1000 putative coral genotypes across 20 species, and we actively outplant 4 of the historically dominant reef-building species. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
Over the past two weeks our CRF™ team was able to outplant 1,580 Elkhorn, 922 staghorn, and 512 boulder corals across the six diverse reef sites. With 9 workboats going out we returned corals to Carysfort Reef South, Eastern Dry Rocks, Looe Key, North Dry Rocks, Pickles Reef, and Sombrero Reef. Carysfort Reef South was a particularly exciting day as we sent 8 divers to return 490 corals to the wild and this day of diving was funded by the United Way of Collier County and the Keys.
Ending the two weeks of beautiful weather on May 19th we put a massive 876 corals back onto Sombrero Reef with 10 divers in the water. That brought us to our two week total of 3,015 corals back on the reef! We are so excited for all we can accomplish this summer and we are excited to see if we can surpass last year's outplant numbers of 35,011 corals back onto the reef in 2021.
CRF™ staff and intern divers smile after a successful day returning 876 corals to Sombrero Reef! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
WELCOME NEW RESTORATION PROGRAM INTERNS
With all the massive outplant trips scheduled for the summer we can use all the help we can get so let us introduce you to two of our newest restoration team members, our Restoration Program Interns!
Our internship operates on three levels; intern, lead intern, and program intern. The first term, interns receive an in-depth introduction into the world of coral restoration. Then, interns can become leads for a second term. They are charged with mentoring the incoming interns with everything from land training to leading them in the water. Finally, our 3rd term interns apply to specific departments at CRF™ and are chosen by the departments program managers to specifically focus on that department and its projects throughout the term. The departments range from development and donor engagement, to science, and even communications and dive safety.
Our Restoration Program Interns this term are Alex Walker and Alex Sapien, Alex’s have a special aptitude for coral restoration. Both Alex’s will be assisting in planning outplanting efforts, photomosaics, boat and dive gear maintenance, nursery maintenance, and eventually leading their own restoration work boats for CRF. More specifically Alex Walker will be heading our restoration in our lower key’s nurseries and will be assisting in the expansion of our newest coral nursery Looe Key. Alex Sapien will be heading the planning and transfer of our Novel Coral Species from Pickles Nursery to Tavernier Nursery. Both Alex’s could not be more excited to lend their knowledge and passion to CRF’s Restoration team during our busiest season.
Alex Walker and Alex Sapien join the CRF™ Restoration team as Program Interns! ©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.