GIRL SCOUTING BUILDS COURAGE, CONFIDENCE, CHARACTER, AND CORALS!
Our Coral Crew was joined by Girl Scout Troop 637 and their families this month! We led them through the history and ecology of coral reefs and taught them all about restoration. The troop was amazed to learn that the reef ecosystem has been in existence for 500 million years but was shocked to hear that 50% of coral has died in the last 40 years. After doing the math they realized that an entire ecosystem could become extinct in their lifetimes!
What could be causing this rapid decline? The Girl Scouts knew corals face many threats like increased ocean temperatures, plastic pollution, and human interference, but had yet another eureka moment when our team taught them about the chemicals in some sunscreens that harm corals. They were starting to understand just how many threats to their survival corals face!
Coral reefs have seen a rapid decline in recent years, as a result of human activities. ©Alexander Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™
We never want to leave a group hopeless about the future of our reefs, so during our Dive Programs we always discuss solutions. The Girl Scouts had great suggestions for one another, like turning off lights, biking and walking more, using reusable water bottles, and they were happy to learn that sunscreens made with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are reef safe. The most inspiring solution suggested by the troop was to spread the message of coral conservation to their friends and family.
Girl Scout Troop 637 discusses climate change, plastic pollution, and sunscreen toxicity in relation to coral health and suggest solutions to these reef disruptors! ©Maria Baco
It is inspiring to see future generations so excited to learn about coral reef restoration and share that passion with the world. We are looking forward to working with the Girls Scouts in the future, expanding and building on their new love of coral reefs! When their program ended the Girl Scouts felt empowered to become more environmentally friendly in their daily lives. With a lifetime ahead of them, they felt sure they could do it!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS OF 2020
If we can say one thing about 2020 it has certainly been a year to remember. Take a look back at some of our most memorable moments in Dive Programs!
January, February, and March
Before we knew the term social distancing, our in person Dive Programs were crowded with eager learners! We we had the pleasure of training marine biology students at Coral Shores High School in restoration techniques, and even visited their classroom! We also teamed up with Captain's Corner, a dive shop in Key West, to introduce a group of divers to coral reef restoration. They had flown all the way from Colorado to make their friend's birthday meaningful!
Dive Programs in full swing from Key Largo to Key West before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
April, May, and June
The COVID-19 pandemic halted all Dive Programs. Our staff and supporters safety is still our highest priority. During these months we had to cancel many of our in person dive trips, but we adapted and hosted the first ever Digital Coralpalooza!
Our team rose to the occasion and helped make this one of the most successful Coralpaloozas ever! You can still download our CRF™ video backgrounds and "swim" through the coral reef with us!
July, August, and September
After months of navigating the challenges of COVID-19, and with the safety of our team and Dive Program participants as our top priority, we were able to resume Dive Programs with extra precautions including social distancing and mandatory masks! We were all so happy to be back on the water restoring reefs with divers, and knew following additional protocols would make our programs safe and rewarding!
Dive programs recommence with new safety protocols in July 2020. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
October, November, and December
We had the pleasure of hosting 8 emerging young scientists from Black Girls Dive Foundation. Each diver was excited to learn about restoration and couldn't wait to see our Coral Tree™ nursery! They were a huge help to the Coral Crew and gave us tons of hope for the future of coral restoration.
Students from Black Girls Dive Foundation learn about coral restoration and practice restoration techniques (top left, bottom ©Tessa Markham/Coral Restoration Foundation™
Black Girls Dive students care for elkhorn coral in our Tavernier Nursery (top right) © Zac Ransom/Coral Restoration Foundation™
We've all embraced our new normal and are grateful for all of the groups that have made the extra effort to join us this year and learn about coral reef health, while also following procedures to keep you and our team safe!
NATIONAL BATTLING BIOFOUL STUDENT CHALLENGE
This year, for our national student challenge, we are tackling a new problem – biofouling!
Read the full press release and register here!
JOIN OUR TEAM
Applications are accepted until the position is filled. Apply today!
Gabrielle Rosenbacher grew up in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, she has been passionate about wildlife conservation since she can remember. She became PADI certified at 10 years old in the Koh Pi Pi Islands in Thailand. Gabrielle received a BA in Environmental Studies - Ecology & Conservation from the University of Vermont. A semester of her studies was spent in the Turks & Caicos Islands at the School for Field Studies - Center for Marine Resource Studies, further growing her passion for marine conservation and diving. Following university, Gabrielle lived in the Canary Islands, where she received her Divemaster and PADI Instructor qualifications, as well as numerous specialty certifications. Since then, she led a non-profit marine conservation organization in Caye Caulker, Belize, as the project coordinator. Gabrielle would like to continue devoting her life to marine conservation and working with non-profit organizations.