Updated: Nov 11, 2019
REACHING NEW HEIGHTS WITH NOVEL SITES
This past summer, with support from NOAA, the CRF™ team completed a monumental three-year project, in which we returned 50,000 corals to the Florida Reef Tract.
Last month, we received confirmation of a second cooperative agreement established with NOAA (as described in this press release), which includes over $2.5 million in funding from NOAA to continue planting reef-building corals, such as staghorn and elkhorn, but also to branch out with restoring different species and ongoing development of our novel outplanting techniques.
The new iteration of CRF™'s restoration plan focuses our large-scale restoration efforts on three sites that showed marked success over the years: Carysfort Reef, Pickles Reef, and Sombrero Reef. Focusing our efforts on these sites will help promote connectivity between restored sites.
We will also be adopting four trial sites - Horseshoe Reef, Cheeca Rocks, Newfound Harbor, and Eastern Dry Rocks. These sites, distributed throughout the Keys, demonstrate diverse topography and provide unique opportunities for studying different restoration environment.
A FAREWELL AND THANK YOU TO PAIGE
For the past six months, Paige Carper has worked with our restoration team, ensuring that daily operations ran smoothly. Paige first became interested in corals as a child where she grew up on a small island earning numerous diving certifications. Over time she witnessed first hand the decline in coral cover in the Florida Keys, which led her to study restoration techniques of three boulder coral species and the factors that affect their survival. She feels that coral restoration is vital here in the Florida Keys.
Her organizational skills and enthusiasm for coral restoration helped us complete our annual outplanting goals. In fact, this summer Paige alone outplanted over 1500 corals! Whether she was captaining a boat or assisting in nursery maintenance, Paige always sought ways to improve our restoration methods. Most notably, she created elkhorn “bunk beds"for corals spending the night in crates – a novel design that ensures maximum water circulation for the corals while they wait to be returned to the wild.
Though Paige’s time with CRF™ has come to an end, she has made lasting impacts on the Florida Reef Tract and will be remembered fondly by all the staff and interns. While Paige will be hanging up her dive gear temporarily, she is excited to continue working on outreach and education so stay tuned!
We wish her the best of luck and know that she will succeed wherever she goes. Thank you, Paige, for all of your hard work, we will miss you!
“POLYPS” PRACTICE PLANTING
This past month we welcomed a new round of interns for the Fall semester! For the past two weeks, they have spent time working within each department learning the ins and outs of coral restoration at CRF™.
They acclimated to their positions through classroom lectures about our citizen science program, OK Coral, as well as took their first strides toward earning their coral restoration distinctive specialty and CRF™ scientific diver qualifications! Of course, there are plenty of responsibilities topside that the interns have assumed, including daily operations of our Exploration Center and choosing a personal project that supports our mission.
After learning the proper Coral Tree maintenance techniques, the team headed to the Tavernier Nursery to do some much-needed tree cleaning! By removing algae and other competitors from the Coral Trees, the coral frags are able to grow faster and be returned to the wild sooner. Plenty of staghorn corals were also ready to be outplanted, and, with the supervision of staff and returning interns, each new intern was able to outplant their first 20 corals! They also learned about monitoring at Pickles Reef, a site that has received more than 3000 new corals this year alone.
Are you or someone you know interested in future internship opportunities?
CRF™ is now accepting applications for our spring semester! Gain valuable field experience and participate in education and outreach programs with the largest coral restoration organization in the world! For more information click here.
"Bringing It Back" Editorial Intern
Krista is from Quincy, Massachusetts and is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington with degrees in Marine Biology and Psychology as well as a minor in Neuroscience. She grew up on the ocean and first got the conservation bug when she watched as horseshoe crabs and seagrass beds near her home began to disappear. Throughout her undergraduate career, she took an interest in animal behavior and neurobiology and most recently conducted research in lifespan changes in the brains of sharks. She has worked closely with the New England Aquarium as an aquarist intern and conservation volunteer, as well as the National Estuarine Research Reserve in Homer, Alaska studying the foraging ecology of sea otters. In terms of diving, she got certified in high school but attributes her passion for the sport to her internship with the Boston Sea Rovers. Most recently, she obtained her PADI Divemaster certification as well as AAUS scientific diver and was proud to serve as the President of her university’s SCUBA Club. Krista is overjoyed to finally combine her passions of marine conservation, diving, and outreach to make lasting impacts on the local reef systems through her internship with the Coral Restoration Foundation™!