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"Diving In" to January with the Coral Chronicles


Coral Restoration Foundation™ offers an educational internship that is split into 3 terms four-month terms. During the first term of the internship, we endearingly refer to our new interns as “polyps”. The second term the polyps are well trained and ready to lead the new round of interns. This term involves mentorship with polyps, and more responsibilities. The third term the intern is paired with a department and program manager and is given an even higher level of responsibility. They can work with whatever department aligns with their interests such as science, restoration, education, dive programs, communications, and more! This term our new Dive Program intern is Haley Evans! Haley has a particular love for engaging with the community and inspiring others, especially about coral restoration. She also has a knack for teaching, which makes her a stellar representative during public dive programs.

Haley grew up in San Francisco, California, and likes to say that being an animal lover was her entire personality as a child. You would not want to see the battle that would ensue if someone tried to kill a spider in front of her. As she grew older and progressed through young adulthood and choosing a career path she always came back to animals and nature. She decided to go to University of Colorado, Boulder, to pursue her goals by majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Haley realized that she could make an impact. During her junior year Haley took a class called Coral Reef Ecology. In this class her classmates and her learned about coral reefs in the classroom, then flew to Cozumel, Mexico, to see firsthand what they were learning about. After this experience, she decided that when she graduated, she would become a professional scuba diver and find a job where she could help protect ocean animals.

After graduating Haley flew to Belize and spent two months getting her Divemaster certification. Shortly after completing her certification, she was accepted into the CRF™ internship program. At this point in her life, Haley was aware of how important coral is for the functioning of our planet. So, when she was accepted by CRF she felt like her life's plan of saving animals was finally coming to fruition. She packed her belongings from Colorado and drove 40 hours (about 1 and a half days) down to Key Largo!

Now Haley is in her third term of her internship, having completed 8 months of training and on the job experience she is ready to take on new responsibilities as the Dive Program Intern. Despite her training Haley was nervous to take on this task of independently running most of our Dive Programs. She could barely sleep the night before her first solo program. The program was atypical in that it was a 2-day trip with a group called South Jersey SCUBA, who periodically came to the keys to take part in our programs.

Dive program participants help to care for endangered corals in CRF™ open ocean coral nurseries. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

On Day 1 Haley lead the educational session, giving a presentation and teaching them how to do underwater work with our hands-on stations. This all went well. Phew. DAy 2 began with everyone meeting at Captain Slate’s dive shop in Tavernier. All the equipment was accounted for, the boat briefing went as planned, and Haley’s first Dive Program was on its way. They made it to the Tavernier nursery and Haley needed to give her divers a tour of the entire nursery, then organize them into pairs that would clean coral trees while she harvested 50 corals for outplanting. The Tavernier nursery is the biggest open ocean coral nursery in the world containing over 500 Coral Trees™. Map in hand, Haley entered the water with her divers and off they went to explore the nursery. She used all her training and gripped that map like her life depended on it, and section by section she navigated the entire nursery successfully!

The next challenge was Coral Tree™ cleaning and fragment harvesting. Jason Litwak, Haley’s fellow intern and Coral Crew mate, supported her through the program. He gave the divers their Tree™ cleaning tools and set them up to scrape and scrub biofoul from Coral Trees™. As they cleaned Haley began harvesting corals. Jason, Divemaster Bob, and South Jersey SCUBA instructor, Kevin, were instrumental in helping Haley manage the divers and made sure they all cleaned Trees™ properly and were sent back to the boat when their air was low. At the end of the dive, the corals were harvested, and everyone reboarded the boat eager to look at the corals they would return to the wild.

A CRF™ diver transports a crate of recently harvested coral fragments back to the boat where they will be placed in boxes of seawater for the 10 minute trip to their new reef home! ©Alexander Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™

Now the last step approached; coral outplanting. Haley knew exactly where to go, having just been at the restoration site a few days prior. The boat moored up, Haley and Jason swam to the site and set up their outplanting area. The participants followed, and everyone got to work. The participants were using good technique and teamwork to get the corals secured to the reef, and Haley supervised and assisted anyone that needed help. After just 50 minutes all 50 coral fragments were securely fastened to their new reef homes!

Everyone reboarded the boat and headed to land. With the help of the Coral Crew, the CRF™ Restoration Team, Captain Slates, and Kevin at South Jersey SCUBA this had day turned out to be a major success, and Haley is so grateful to all the people and participants who made her first solo outplanting dive program wonderful.

Haley Evans, the newest CRF Dive Program Intern, smiles after a day of SCUBA diving to save Florida's Coral Reef! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

“I feel like all my life I have been wanting to help the animals and protect nature, but it was always a vision. Since I started interning at CRF™ I feel like I am finally living that dream. I have had that moment of realizing that I am exactly where I should be, and this internship has opened so many doors for me to realize what I want to dedicate my life to. I love working with corals so much. The polyps are cute, and corals have a special place in my heart. I am so grateful that every step of my life has brought me here.” - Haley Evans, Dive Program Intern

"Diving In" Editorial Intern

Haley was born and raised in the Bay area in California, educated at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is now embarking on her next adventure in the Florida Keys. An Environmental Studies major with a Biology minor, Haley loves being face-to-face with the natural world. Animals being her biggest passion, she loves having up close experiences with the underwater world. Haley obtained her Divemaster training in Belize where she got to experience beautiful diving, but also heard stories about pristine reefs bustling with life, which have vanished. She has made it her mission to work for an organization that shares the goal of restoring and protecting the ocean. Working with CRF and incorporating diving, connecting with the community, and environmental restoration has been the adventure of a lifetime for Haley.

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. .

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