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"Diving In" to January 2020 with the Coral Chronicles


This week, we had the pleasure of training marine biology students at Coral Shores High School on our basic restoration techniques. Four of our interns joined them in the classroom for two days of hands-on education, and we’ll be taking them out to our Tavernier nursery next week to apply what they’ve learned!

The presentation included a general overview of CRF™ and our mission. Once all the students had a solid grasp on what we do and why we do it, it was time to teach them how we restore coral reefs! We do this part of the presentation with interactive activities to mimic what it will be like underwater.

On Day 1, CRF™ Interns Ellen and Ashton visited this class of high school seniors to give them an informative overview. This was a great learning opportunity for Ashton who joined CRF™ as a first-round intern at the beginning of January. On Day 2, Nik and Maria returned to the classroom to give these students a hands-on workshop.

CRF™ Intern Maria McCausland demonstrating outplanting techniques.

“Their teacher, Beth Rosenow, was extremely enthusiastic for us to teach the students about CRF™ and our mission," says CRF™ Lead Intern Ellen Hudson. "The students were asking us so many great questions, and they were even asking their teacher about how the reefs have changed since she was a kid. They are very excited to get out to the nursery and outplant coral, and we can’t wait to have them!”

CRF™ Intern Maria McCausland and CSHS Students practicing outplanting.

To begin the workshop, Nik and Maria showed the students how to clean our Coral Trees. They brought a miniature coral tree about three feet high to have the students practice cleaning monofilament with a toilet brush then practice cleaning branches with a chisel. These are the same tools they will use next week to clean the real Coral Trees in our nursery.

"I'm always impressed with the students at Coral Shores. They have a deep knowledge about their local reef community and have shown a lot of enthusiasm for conservation and restoration work. I'm really looking forward to taking them into our nursery and seeing the amazing work that they’ll do," says CRF™ Lead Intern Nik Varley.

For the outplanting demonstration, Nik and Maria brought in a large paper mâché reef-scape with green hydrophobic sand which represents an actual reef site that they will outplant on underwater. Students used foam hammers to clear away the green sand and attach corals to the reef-scape with play-dough as if they were actually outplanting. On the actual reef, they will use real hammers and marine epoxy to clear away surface space and attach corals to the reef.

Weather permitting, we’re hoping to get these students out on the water next week to tour our Coral Nursery, help clean our Coral Trees, and outplant clusters of staghorn coral. We can’t wait to get these young marine scientists on the reef!

Thank you to all who participated in this two-day workshop! For more information about our dive programs or to sign up, contact our Recreational Dive Program Coordinator Roxane Boonstra (



CRF™ is hiring a Volunteer Coordinator! Do you have a passion for marine conservation? Are you detail-oriented, flexible, and great at working with groups of people? Then you may be our next Volunteer Coordinator!

© Coral Restoration Foundation™

This position is full-time, and based in Key Largo, Florida. For full details regarding this position, go to


"Diving In" Editorial Intern

Nik is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago, where he studied English and environmental science. He grew up in Virginia, and first learned to dive on a family trip to the US Virgin Islands in 2011. During college, he travelled to Bocas Del Toro, Panama to study ocean acidification with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Nik is very happy to be contributing to the Coral Restoration Foundation™’s important work, and hopes to make a positive impact on the Keys’ marine communities both on land and in the water.

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