A YEAR IN REVIEW: DIVE & VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS
January, February, & March
In January of 2022, 9 new interns, known as polyps, joined the team. Throughout this first month, they underwent training and began the intensive process of learning the coral restoration and scientific diving skills they would be using in the internship. After 2 weeks of training charters with Dive Training Administrator Roxane Boonstra, the new interns started going out on workboats with the restoration staff and other interns.
First round interns begin their training in January 2022. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
Along with our interns, volunteers are a huge help to our mission at CRF™. As a result of COVID-19, Coral Restoration Foundation™ had to temporarily shut down the volunteer program. However, this year, the volunteers were back. Fred Hartner and Patrice Duval were the first two volunteers to return to CRF workboats! Additionally, there were new volunteers ready to begin the volunteer training process. The first training charter of the year went out on January 13!
CRF™ volunteers head out for a day of training on our first ever free training charter in January 2022! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
Dr. Scarlett Smash and Cracken MacCraic, two hosts of the Marine Conservation Happy Hour podcast, visited our Exploration Center and had the opportunity to learn all about coral restoration and our mission. They attended the morning educational session and shared the positive experience with their listeners!
Dr. Scarlett Smash and Cracken MacCraic join CRF™ and share their adventures on their Marine Science Happy Hour podcast! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
April, May, June
On April 17, one of the polyps Wylie Phillips had the opportunity to help run her first dive program, little did she know in just 8 months she would be specializing in these trips as the Dive Program Intern!
Recreational divers accompanied by CRF™ interns return corals to Florida's Coral Reef. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
In June, CRF™ was ready to host Coralpalooza™, a day where we gather as many divers, dive shops, and ocean lovers as possible for a single massive restoration armada set outplanting as many corals as possible! However, Hurricane Alex had different plans. Due to intense weather conditions, Coralpalooza™ was cancelled, and the land portion was postponed until December 11th!
Coralpalooza™ 2021 was a major success but Coralpalooza™ 2022 was cancelled because of Hurricane Alex. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
July, August, September
This summer between May and August we ran 26 private and public Dive & Snorkel programs with over 60 people joining our Coral Crew for a day!
When August came to an end Wylie became our Dive Program and Volunteer Training Intern. On September 8, Wylie went out with Dive Training Administrator Roxane Boonstra and 5 new interns for a mock dive program. The new interns had the opportunity to see what it is like to be a dive program participant, including cleaning coral trees in the Tavernier Nursery and then outplanting 30 staghorn corals on Pickles Reef.
CRF™ trains interns, volunteers, and recreational divers to assist in our coral restoration mission! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
October, November, December
When October came around, it was time for the polyp one month training. On October 11, the group spent the day in the Carysfort Nursery with Wylie, Roxane and Education Training Associate Megan Fryer, and the interns had the opportunity to practice their nursery maintenance skills. On October 14, lead intern Claire led her first dive program. The group went out with Rainbow Reef Dive Center and outplanted 50 corals at Pickles Reef.
In November, it was already time for the polyp mid semester training! On November 15 and 29, the group joined Wylie, Roxane, Megan and all the lead interns for two days in the Carysfort Nursery, learning how to take more of a leadership role when completing tasks in the nursery.
As the year came to a close, December was finally here! On December 16, the last volunteer charter of the year went out with Quiescence Dive Center! The group headed out to Tavernier Nursery, harvested 50 staghorn corals, and then returned them to Pickles Reef. To finish out the year and her internship, Wylie led the final dive program. She was joined by Communications and Outreach Coordinator Madalen, first-round intern Rebecca Jones, three dive participants and one snorkeler. They enjoyed a day in the Carysfort Nursery cleaning trees and then doing a tour through the nursery before visiting beautiful staghorn thickets out on Carysfort Reef.
"Diving In" Editorial Intern
Wylie grew up in landlocked Pennsylvania, but after a few family trips to Grand Cayman as a kid, she instantly fell in love with the marine world. She remembers snorkeling and later trying to identify everything she had seen. When her granddad got certified to SCUBA dive at the age of 70, it inspired the entire family to follow in his footsteps. Wylie went on her first dive at 13. From that moment on, she realized that she wanted to dive for the rest of her life. In college, she double majored in Marine Estuarine and Freshwater Biology and Spanish at the University of New Hampshire. At 20, she was an intern at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute on Little Cayman where she was introduced to coral monitoring. During the last two years of college, she dived in New England, acquiring her Rescue Diver and AAUS Scientific Diver Certifications as well as working with crabs, mussels and limpets. While she had come to love cold water diving, she realized that she missed coral and wanted to get involved with coral restoration. That said, she is beyond grateful for the opportunity to intern for Coral Restoration Foundation™.
Coral Chronicles Editor
Madalen Howard (she/her) is CRF's Communications and Outreach Coordinator. She 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, marketing and digital communications.
With CRF™ Madalen creates inclusive pathways to scientific discovery through content creation and by building and fostering relationships with press, digital media creators, and local community members. Throughout her life Madalen has had a skill connecting people with nature, and is excited to bring people into the world of coral restoration. .