BEHIND THE SCENES: MASSIVE SCALE REEF RESTORATION
We recently had the largest restoration day of 2021 at Looe Key Reef!
A crew of 15 CRF™ divers and many, many tubs filled with corals drove south to Captain Hooks charter in Big Pine Key. When we arrived, the visibility was less than ideal but our team was ready for the challenge.
Divers clear algae from the reef in preparation for coral restoration! ©Madalen Howard/Coral Restoration Foundation™
With hammers in hand, everyone began clearing algae from the reef’s surface to make suitable homes for the new corals. If you stopped to listen to all the divers with their hammers, it sounded like we were working in a mine!
“It’s amazing to be part of a restoration crew this large. It really brings into perspective the scale of the work that CRF™ is doing. We're aiming for restoration of entire reef systems and this is the operating scale we need to accomplish that," said Restoration Program Intern Bailey Thomasson.
Soon enough area had been cleared to begin securing the corals to the reef structure. By the end of the day, 300 staghorn and 500 boulder corals were returned to the reef, for a whopping total of 800!
BACK UNDER THE WAVES
The winter months here in the Florida Keys were cold and windy to say the least! Though the stormy months gave us a lot of time for nursery maintenance and propagation, all our staff and interns have been missing restoration days on the reef.
“Nothing beats a restoration dive day! Though it’s hard work to clear away algae to make a spot for the corals, it is so rewarding when the job is done. So many sea creatures immediately become curious about the corals we place on the reef," said Lead Intern Elly Perez.
This month our luck changed and we had many opportunities to return corals to their homes on the reef. We restored over 675 staghorn corals to Carysfort Reef South! These corals are now monitored by our Science team for growth and survivorship. We hope that marine life and divers alike will be able to enjoy these corals for years to come!
CRF™ INTERNSHIP SKILL BUILDING
Coral Restoration Foundation™ offers an amazing internship for young ocean stewards as part of our Education program. The internship cultivates a wide variety of skills in the marine conservation sector including education, outreach, research, monitoring, and active restoration.
Our mid-semester training review covered SCUBA, restoration, and monitoring skills. ©Madalen Howard/Coral Restoration Foundation™
New interns complete two-weeks of training to learn these skills and we host a mid-semester skills review to follow up on their progress. All ten of our new interns joined Dive Training Coordinator, Roxane Boonstra, and Dive Program and Training Program Intern, Chris Reynolds, last week for a review day at Carysfort Reef.
“I really valued the mid-semester skills review! We learn a lot of information during our first training, so it was really nice to pause and check-in with staff members to ensure that we’re as accurate and efficient as possible in our work," said CRF™ Intern Lindsey Smith.
The new interns left the water more confident than ever in their restoration skills. We value our interns’ progress and we are so excited for the work they will complete throughout the rest of their spring term!
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"Bringing It Back" Editorial Intern
Bailey grew up on a lake in North Carolina, and has felt connected to the water for as long as she can remember. When she was 10 years old, she got SCUBA certified and started taking annual diving trips to Florida where she saw first-hand the decline of coral reefs in the Keys. Knowing that she wanted to make a career in marine conservation, she joined an Operation Wallacea expedition to Greece where she learned field work skills.
Bailey graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 with a major in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Marine Science. During her four years there, she worked as a research assistant investigating how the calcium carbonate skeleton of corals are affected by ocean warming and acidification. Most recently, she worked as a summer camp educator at the Discovery Place Nature Museum in North Carolina where she taught students about the natural environment and how to protect it. Bailey is so excited for the opportunity to work with Coral Restoration Foundation™ towards its mission of restoring coral reefs