Updated: Sep 5, 2019
THE COMPLETION OF A THREE YEAR PROJECT
We are celebrating a major achievement at CRF™! Just two weeks ago, we finished all of our NOAA outplants for the year! That means we have finished outplanting 1500 staghorn and elkhorn corals back on the Florida Reef Tract. But that’s not all! The completion of this year’s NOAA outplants marks the end of our three year NOAA cooperative agreement. Starting in October 2016, this restoration project helped us set goals to get large numbers of corals back out onto multiple reefs and has supported a large portion of the work we do.
The goals of our first year of the NOAA grant involved outplanting 450 staghorn corals each on 20 different reef sites and planting 180 elkhorn corals at 5 different reef sites, totaling just under 10,000 coral outplants. When year two came around, we assessed the 20 different reef sites and narrowed our outplanting sites down to the eight best performing reefs including Carysfort Reef, Grecian Rocks, North Dry Rocks, Pickles Reef, Sombrero Reef, Coffins Patch, Looe Key, and Marker 32.This allowed us to focus our energy and outplant 1,050 staghorn and 1,050 elkhorn on each reef, totaling close to 17,000 corals. Our outplanting goals increased every year and in our third and final year of the NOAA grant, we outplanted 1,500 of each staghorn and elkhorn on each of the eight reef sites, totaling 24,000 corals outplanted!
Photo credit: Garrett Fundakowski, Jess Levy/ Coral Restoration Foundation
Thanks to the NOAA grant, over the past three years, we have outplanted over 50,000 corals from this project! While we still have more work to do this year to fulfill other grants and permits, we want to thank everyone who assisted us in this project! What’s next for CRF? Stay tuned to find out what our next big project will be!
THE FUTURE OF RESTORATION IN THE FLORIDA KEYS
On August 20th, 2019, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary released its “Restoration Blueprint,” a draft of an Environmental Impact Statement with proposed changes to protect fragile marine habitats from cumulative and emerging threats. The four alternatives in the proposal offer varying degrees of protection. Following a five-month public comment period, the sanctuary will consider elements from each of the alternatives to build a final proposal. There are multiple components in the Restoration Blueprint including sanctuary boundaries, sanctuary-wide regulations, marine zone boundaries, additional marine zone regulations, and management plans. Visit the website to view the entire document, explore the static and interactive map to compare the different alternatives, and to learn more!
In the photo above you can see a snapshot of the interactive map. You can click different alternatives and explore. Then by clicking on a sectioned area, a description box appears to explain where it is and what it would be protecting.
RESTORATION INTERNS LEAVE THE NEST
As our summer session draws to an end, the Restoration Team says good to our two program interns, Alyssa and Austin. These two were critical members of the Restoration Team and were instrumental to our success over the summer and our busiest field season. Both have been with CRF™ for a full year, starting as 1st round interns, then leads, then stepping into their program internship this last term. It has been exciting to watch them grow as part of this team, and while we are excited to see where they go next, they will be greatly missed! To Austin and Alyssa, thank you for everything and all your dedication to CRF™ and its restoration efforts.
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS
In the restoration field, unexpected things can happen and sometimes hinder your efforts! This month our compressor broke, leaving us with a limited supply of full tanks for us to dive. Without a compressor, we can not go out and help restore the Florida Reef Tract. Luckily, our good friends over at Conch Republic Divers who support our efforts, graciously filled our tanks free of charge! Without their help, we would have been temporarily out of the water, and would have fallen behind schedule. We want to personally thank Conch Republic for their continued kindness and support!
"Bringing It Back" Editorial Interns
Alyssa, originally from Ohio, graduated from Ohio University with her BSc. in marine freshwater and environmental biology. As soon as she graduated she made her way down to Miami, Florida to be closer to the ocean. Since being at CRF she has created our Sips & Science monthly talk series. Now she is currently in her third semester with us as a Restoration Program Intern. She is excited to be co-author of "Bringing it Back".
Austin is from Indiana and graduated from Indiana University with degrees in Animal Behavior and Biology, a certificate in Underwater Resource Management, and a minor in Psychology. Austin is one of two Restoration Program Interns and a co-author of “Bringing It Back”. During his time at CRF, Austin has been working on testing plastic free materials for nursery trees, testing and documenting novel outplanting methods, and monitoring and treating pillar coral fragments. He is excited to see where these projects will go in his final month at CRF™.