SAVING CLUB-TIP FINGER CORAL IN THE FLORIDA KEYS
You may be familiar with the acroporid and boulder corals that we return to the reef, but did you know that as an organization, we have 11 different species of corals in our nurseries? We raise elkhorn, staghorn, and several species of boulder corals!
Outplanted staghorn coral (left) and a natural colony of elkhorn coral (right) on Florida's Coral Reef. © Alexander Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™
Aside from our standard coral trees, the nursery also has a designated area which houses initial stocks of various species. These corals remain here and are continuously fragmented and left to grow which creates a large production stock. Eventually they will be hung on our coral trees and used for outplanting and restoration efforts!
CRF™ Restoration Program Intern Lauren Zitzman places club-tip finger coral on plugs and trays. © Coral Restoration Foundation™
Club-tip finger coral (Porites porites) is being grown out in an initial stock, and has not yet been fully integrated into our restoration efforts. This stock came to us in 2017 from colonies living under Long Key Bridge that otherwise would have died due to construction work.
When we first acquired the club-tip finger coral samples, we grew them on our classic Coral Tree design, but we quickly discovered hanging from the monofilament line was not the best way to support their growth. In the last month, we've instead moved the samples to our boulder tree design where they grow on limestone plugs. Now our nursery has two boulder trees full of club-tip finger coral, and we continue to closely monitor their growth.
CRF™ Volunteer Coordinator JD Reinbott hangs ivory bush coral on a new tree. © Coral Restoration Foundation™
Another coral species we acquired from the Long Key Bridge construction is ivory bush coral (Oculina diffusa). This species is growing on our classic Coral Tree design, and is doing well!
We are so encouraged by its progress that we have recently added five more ivory bush coral trees for a total of 11 in our nursery. Building up our production stock for outplanting is an exciting and important task as it will allow us to eventually incorporate even more species into our restoration efforts.
ELKHORN OUTPLANT EXTRAVAGANZA
On September 28, we had our second largest outplanting day of the year! 10 divers, one boat, and 1,041 corals went back to the reef. CRF™ interns and staff set off with Captain Hooks Charters in Marathon and returned 1,041 elkhorn corals to Sombrero Reef. Despite less than ideal dive conditions, we completed our entire elkhorn outplanting goal for Sombrero Reef in just one day, during the course of three dives.
A photomosaic taken after outplanting at Sombrero Reef, each white dot shows an elkhorn coral. © Coral Restoration Foundation™
“The low visibility and ripping current made it a really eerie experience, but getting 1,040 corals back to the reef was so rewarding!"said CRF™ Lead Intern Sydney Gallagher.
Based on our annual outplant calendar (Oct. 2019-Sept 2020) this was our final trip of the year to complete the outplanting goals for our NOAA cooperative agreement. We are exceptionally proud of this achievement and look forward to reaching future goals with the same hard work and dedication.
INTERESTED IN JOINING OUR TEAM? APPLY TODAY!
Launch your career with us! CRF™ Interns can expect to be challenged, mentored, and inspired, working with a dynamic team that is dedicated to helping them find their focus.
We're now officially accepting applications for our Spring 2021 Coral Conservation and Reef Restoration Internship! The application deadline is October 30, 2020, so apply today.
You can find detailed information about our internship including requirements and qualifications, here.
You can also see what some of our CRF™ Alumni are up to here. Please note that our internship positions are based in Key Largo, Florida.
"Bringing It Back" Editorial Intern
Lauren studied psychology and environmental studies at Seattle University, where she had the life altering experience of studying abroad in the Galapagos Islands. There, she was introduced to marine biology, conservation, and diving. After that, her passion for diving only increased, and she is now a dive instructor and has traveled to explore the marine ecosystems in the Maldives, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Pacific Northwest, and the Florida Keys. An avid learner, Lauren immersed herself in the local environment and started volunteering with Seattle Aquarium as a diver, beach naturalist and salmon naturalist. Lauren is interested in one day conducting deep-sea research, so she earned her certification as a ROV pilot and technician. Most recently, she became a marine educator at Pacific Marine Research Afloat and was taught to inspire change through educating young people to make an everlasting change on the planet. Lauren is excited to still be working in education while making a visible difference on the planet with CRF™.