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"Diving In" to February 2020 with the Coral Chronicles


Last Friday was Valentine's day, and the coral crew here at CRF™ did a wonderful job of spreading the love for coral restoration during a dive program. After a morning of hands-on learning, the group made a stop at our Tavernier Nursery to harvest coral, then headed to Pickles Reef for outplanting. With a full-sized crew of sixteen volunteers, they outplanted very quickly and had a blast doing it! By the end of the dive, we introduced over 50 corals onto Pickles Reef thanks to the efforts of our volunteers and staff.

CRF™ Intern Lauren swimming with a crate of restoration materials.

© Shane Gallimore/Coral Restoration Foundation™

The crew was led by Nik Varley, a lead intern here at CRF™. This was his first time leading a dive program, and he did an outstanding job teaching the group about our restoration work. Leading a dive program requires a high level of organization and communication as there is a lot to keep track of especially when we have a larger group of divers in the water using new skills.

One of our newest interns, Lauren, assisted Nik on Friday. This was her first time helping with a dive program.

“It’s amazing to be in an environment where everybody’s main goal is to restore as many corals as possible. That sort of collective energy and mentality is incredible,” said Lauren, CRF™ Intern.

This was also our first dive program group that outplanted onto Pickles Reef within our photomosaic area. This means we're able to monitor the corals that are outplanted on this site using an efficient photomosaic monitoring method, as opposed to laboring through diver surveys.



This month in Key West we hosted a group of twelve volunteers who were looking to infuse more meaning into their vacation. Hailing all the way from Colorado, a group of snorkelers and divers alike chose to celebrate their friend’s birthday by learning more about coral restoration and conservation through one of our dive programs with Captain’s Corner!

The morning consisted of an educational talk about the threats corals face, the importance of protecting them, and how we at CRF™ are working to actively restore reef sites from Northern Key Largo all the way down to Key West!

CRF™ Volunteer and Dive Program Coordinator Roxane Boonstra discussing our Coral Tree to Key West dive program group. © Andrew Ibarra/Coral Restoration Foundation™

One of our new interns, Andrew, spoke with the group to remind them that “all things are interconnected. Even after today you can make a difference for the reefs’ health by making small changes in your day to day routine!”

“This group was a lot of fun to work with. They had great energy and were very interested in learning as much as they could in a few hours!” said CRF™ Intern Andrew Ibarra.

After a brief break, the program participants tried their hands at coral restoration work on our training reefscape and mini coral tree. During this time, they familiarized themselves with the tools of the trade and received tips and tricks about effective outplanting! Unfortunately, due to unfavorable marine forecasts, this group was unable to make it onto the water; but that did not dampen their spirits.

CRF™ Intern Krista showing participants how to outplant on a reefscape.

© Andrew Ibarra/Coral Restoration Foundation™

“To see people come from across the country to dedicate their time on vacation to our mission is very exciting.” said Krista, CRF™ Intern. “Our ability to cater towards a group’s needs during a private dive program allows us to increase the educational value that they receive and ensure that everyone has a positive experience!”

Interested in participating in a future dive program? Curious about coordinating a program for a group? Visit our dive programs page on our website for the most up to date information!



Coral Restoration Foundation™ is pleased to introduce our Raise the Reef Keynote Speaker Jill Heinerth. Jill is a professional cave diving explorer and underwater filmmaker. She’s done work for PBS, National Geographic and the BBC, and she’s one of the most accomplished cave divers on the planet.

A few sea lions checking out Jill and her camera. © Trish Stovel

In addition to writing specialty diving guides, Jill is the author of Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver where she details her firsthand account of exploring the earth’s final frontier: the hidden depths of our oceans and the sunken caves inside our planet. We got the chance to ask her a few questions about her personal connection to the ocean and her incredible work! Read more here.

Jill surfacing from a dive in Chuuk, Micronesia, pleased to see a healthy, robust ecosystem.

© Pam Wooten


"Diving In" Editorial Interns

As a kid, the only thing on Kuba’s mind was that he had to snorkel with a turtle. Being an 8-year-old living in a small Swedish town, the chances of that were rather slim. It wasn't until several years later, on his family vacation to Villamendhoo, that his fantasy became a reality. To this day he still remembers how serene and graceful that turtle was. How it effortlessly glided through the water column, colorful wrasses dancing and darting in all sorts of directions around it. It was an image that stayed with him, one that sparked a love for the ocean. Since then he has become a rescue diver and has worked with Saba marine park rangers on their coral farms. He turned from being a recreational diver to someone who actively strives for change. By seeing both the destruction and beauty of our underwater ecosystems he realized that if anything was worth fighting for, it was our reefs. So he couldn’t be more happy to be an Intern here at CRF™ and he’s thrilled to be a part of their mission.

Krista is from Quincy, Massachusetts and is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington with degrees in Marine Biology and Psychology as well as a minor in Neuroscience. She grew up on the ocean and first got the conservation bug when she watched as horseshoe crabs and seagrass beds near her home began to disappear. Throughout her undergraduate career, she took an interest in animal behavior and neurobiology and most recently conducted research in lifespan changes in the brains of sharks. She has worked closely with the New England Aquarium as an aquarist intern and conservation volunteer, as well as the National Estuarine Research Reserve in Homer, Alaska studying the foraging ecology of sea otters. In terms of diving, she got certified in high school but attributes her passion for the sport to her internship with the Boston Sea Rovers. Most recently, she obtained her PADI Divemaster certification as well as AAUS scientific diver and was proud to serve as the President of her university’s SCUBA Club. Krista is overjoyed to finally combine her passions of marine conservation, diving, and outreach to make lasting impacts on the local reef systems through her internship with the Coral Restoration Foundation™!

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