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"Bringing it Back" in March 2022 with the Coral Chronicles


Preservation of genetic diversity is crucial to the success of reef restoration. While we have a total of 1305 genotypes across all of our nurseries, we have also created an additional measure to ensure that all genetic material is accounted for. In the event that a natural disaster sweeps through our nurseries (which can and does happen), there is always a chance of potential damage being done to our trees. For this reason, we have established a nursery in collaboration with Nova Southeastern University in Broward County with the hope that more protection in a different location can mitigate any fallout from trees lost in natural disasters. In addition to this, graduate students at the university are able to use these corals for use in their projects which contributes to overall knowledge gained about the genotypes we have.

Boulder Coral Trees™ hold fragments of multiple genotypes. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

With all of the genotypes for our staghorn and elkhorn species accounted for, we have just put up four new Coral Trees™ in this nursery to begin transfer of the two species of boulder coral, Orbicella annularis and Orbicella faveolata. These fragments will be transferred on 30-mm PVC cards and used as broodstock for any potential fragmentation. Once this process is complete, we will have a complete genetic bank established of all genetic material for the species we outplant. Plans are in place to potentially begin to outplant these corals in the future, whose growth rates could be used as a useful comparison against corals on the reefs that have come from our other nurseries.

CRF™ diver outplants boulder corals raised in our coral nurseries. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™



This past week, our restoration team also began the process of fragmenting our resident colonies of Montastraea cavernosa, more commonly known as Great star coral. These colonies were rescued from electrical pilings that were being replaced by the Florida Keys Electric Co-Op. After they were transferred from Pickles Nursery to our Tavernier Nursery in December, they were monitored for a few months before deciding to fragment one of the six genotypes. This colony was fragmented in-situ using cutters and we were able to create 9 larger colonies that were placed on PVC cards to be used as broodstock in the future and 33 smaller colonies that were placed on aragonite aquarium plugs.

An upclose photo of a fragment of Montastraea cavernosa in a CRF™ nursery. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

Endemic to the Caribbean, great star coral is the only species within its genus and is part of NOAA’s Mission: Iconic Reefs plan. This plan focuses on the ecosystem-level recovery of reef sites up and down the Florida Keys and in order to do so, requires refined fragmentation methodologies from collaborating organizations familiar with targeted species. In continuing to fragment this species, CRF™ has the potential to share any lessons learned with other organizations working with M. cavernosa and create enough stock to potentially outplant in the future.



Our restoration team is also hard at work expanding our nursery at Carysfort Reef. In addition to the 169 Coral Trees™ in the nursery currently, 66 new trees will be added so that there will be 55 staghorn trees, 158 elkhorn trees, and 22 boulder trees by the time this project is complete.

From left to right an elkhorn, staghorn, and boulder Coral Tree™ house corals ready for outplanting in our nurseries! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

“We have been putting in a lot of effort upfront to organize and prepare Carysfort Nursery for expansion,” restoration associate Lindsey Smith says. “Our team has taken an in-depth inventory of our coral trees and worked to ensure that the position and genotype tags are in good condition. We want to make the expansion as smooth as possible, so there has been a lot of planning and organizing going on leading up to the actual installation of the duckbill anchors.”

Carysfort Nursery is the direct source for all of the outplanting that is done at Carysfort Reef. Once known as the Crown Jewel of the Florida Keys, like many reefs in this area Carysfort has seen an alarming amount of degradation. In recent years, Carysfort Reef has experienced a revitalization largely due to the restoration practices of organizations like CRF. The addition of more trees in our nursery directly correlates with more corals being put back on the reef. When we continue to expand our restoration goals, incredible things can happen.

Birdseye view of the iconic Carysfort Reef including it's lighthouse. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™


"Bringing it Back" Editorial Intern

After spending many summers exploring the coasts of the Virginia Barrier Islands on the Chesapeake Bay and along the rocky beaches of Massachusetts’ South Shore, Kendall developed an immense passion for not only the ocean but marine conservation as a whole. She became SCUBA certified in 2013 while on a marine biology summer program that took her to different islands throughout the Caribbean. It was here that she got her first look at the astounding beauty of coral reefs and fully learned about the harsh human-based actions that have led to their demise.

Kendall graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in Geography/Environmental Studies and a minor in Geospatial Information Systems & Technologies in 2019. She has conducted field work in Fiji, Australia, and Curaçao with a variety of marine organisms including sharks, whales, and coral. She is extremely excited to intern with CRF and learn more about the conservation of coral reefs while simultaneously spreading their important message through effective and strategic communication.

ations to come. 

Coral Chronicles Editor

Madalen Howard is CRF's Marketing Associate. 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.

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