Updated: Aug 22, 2020
DIVE PROGRAMS COMMENCE!
We are so excited to announce that we are offering our public dive programs starting this month! We are continuing to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the safety of our team and participants is always our top priority. Social distancing and extra safety precautions are our new normal, and we are continuously adapting our protocols as the situation evolves. CRF™ dive programs are an amazing way for visiting and local ocean lovers to contribute to our restoration efforts on the Florida Reef Tract. Whether you’re an avid scuba diver or a beginning snorkeler, our day programs offer you a hands-on experience that you will never forget.
Dive Program participants outplanting corals onto a reef. © Alex Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™
What can you expect on the day of a dive program?
Our dive programs are an all-day event, starting at our Exploration Center in Key Largo, Florida. You'll spend the morning learning about the history of corals, the importance of coral reefs around the world, how CRF™ is actively restoring the Florida Reef Tract, and how you can help in our mission. You'll even get to practice cleaning trees and outplanting corals in buddy teams. After lunch and weather permitting, our coral crew will take you visit one of our coral nurseries to perform nursery maintenance and then to one of our active restoration sites to outplant your own coral!
Left: Dive Program participants in 2019 practice proper etiquette for cleaning Coral Trees. Right: Participants practice outplanting corals at the CRF™ Exploration Center using a model reefscape in 2019. © Alex Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™
How have things changed with COVID-19?
Our dive programs will be operating at a limited capacity for the foreseeable future to ensure that all county and CDC guidelines on gathering and social distancing are followed. At CRF™ facilities, we are regularly sanitizing common spaces, limiting indoor capacities to 50%, and asking that all participants wear a face mask. If you have any questions about our safety procedures please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (305) 453-7030. We may cancel public programs with as much notice as possible if the safety of our community or team is at risk.
Dive Program participants work together to outplant Staghorn corals. © Alex Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™
How can you participate?
If you're interested in getting involved with CRF™ through our dive programs, please visit our website for dates and trip details. When you find the perfect date for your visit, use the sign-up link to reserve your spot. If you can't find a dive program that suits you, would like to set up a private program with us, or have any other questions, send us an email at email@example.com or give us a call at (305) 453-7030.
MARINE ARTIST WYLAND AT CORALPALOOZA™ DIGITAL 2020
Coralpalooza™ Digital 2020 allowed us to highlight some extraordinary individuals who are conducting revolutionary work to help save the coral reefs. Wyland is an underwater artist famous for creating large scale murals of ocean life. His creations catch the public's eye and encourage people around the globe to protect our marine ecosystems.
Inspired by Jacques Cousteau’s ability to capture and awe an audience, Wyland aspires to do the same with his art. He picked up his brush and began to tell the story of a magnificent world hidden below the surface. At Coralpalooza™ Digital 2020, he brought us into his Islamorada studio for an interview with CRF™ Communications Director, Alice Grainger, as he painted a beautiful queen angelfish in the background.
Wyland chats with CRF™ Communications Director, Alice Grainger, during Coralpalooza™ Digital 2020
Wyland's goal is to bring the ocean, and its creatures, into the minds and hearts of people who may not have the opportunity to see it for themselves. As an avid diver with experience in all kinds of environments, Wyland analyzes all that he sees underwater and paints them in his mind's eye.
He watches how animals move through the water and notes their colors so when he gets back to his studio he has a vivid memory to translate to the canvas. He makes sure that his art is true to life so that if his murals are the only ocean education someone receives, it will in fact be accurate to real life.
Environmental conservation is integral to his mission and the success of his art. Without a healthy planet to observe, there would be nothing for him to paint. He has participated in CRF™ Dive Programs, saying the experience was "magical" and emphasizes that we "need all the the people on earth to (plant corals)".
Wyland in front of one of his murals. Source: wyland.com
Wyland is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of marine conservationists by inviting local kids to help paint his murals, planting seeds of hope within:
"That's the investment we need to make. If you want to protect the environment, if you want to protect coral reefs today, talk to us. But if you want to protect them for the future, you've got to get these kids on board. Art really opens up their imagination and creativity."
Today's youth play an integral part in saving the ecosystems we love and cherish. Wyland practices what he preaches with the Wyland Foundation, which brings art education and conservation into schools, collaborating with masters of different crafts. Watch the full interview through August 25, 2020 on our virtual event platform. To learn more about Wyland, his artwork, or the Wyland Foundation, visit wyland.com.
DIVING IN WITH DARCY
Meet CRF's Summer Dive Program Intern, Darcy! Originally from the Midwest, Darcy's love for the ocean was inspired by her family's annual trips to Florida. She graduated from Indiana University in 2019 with a B.S. in Biology and a certificate in Underwater Resource Management. She obtained her Rescue Diver certification and was fortunate enough to study abroad in both Grand Cayman and the Dominican Republic throughout her college career, which fueled her passion for ocean conservation. Ultimately, Darcy aims to become a research scientist focusing on corals, with the goal of preserving our beautiful reef habitats for future generations.
We chatted with Darcy about her experience so far this summer and what she's excited for in the coming months. Read on to hear about her experience!
Darcy diving on the Florida Reef Tract. © Coral Restoration Foundation
What are you looking forward to most about being the Summer Dive Program Intern?
Being the Dive Program Intern is a great opportunity to be on the forefront of pushing conservation action through public influence. It’s also an opportunity to improve my leadership and outreach skills, allowing me to enhance my impact on these issues. Lastly, being able to train and lend my experience to the new wave of interns gives me pride in transforming the new generation of conservation leaders.
You recently completed your first dive program after months of public programs being on pause. What was your favorite part?
My favorite part about our dive programs is being able to actively share the importance of coral reefs and getting to lead the public through our restoration practices. I love seeing the excitement from the participants after they’ve just dove through a forest of Coral Trees or outplanted corals back onto the reef.
Darcy outplanting Elkhorn corals. © Coral Restoration Foundation
Have you face any challenges thus far?
Dive programs themselves are challenging for various reasons. From the organization and communication with participants and dive operators, to ensuring a safe, smooth day of diving and outplanting. But thats why I like it! It pushes me to continually improve my quick thinking and problem solving abilities.
KEEP CELEBRATING WITH US!
Did you miss Coralpalooza™ on June 6? Fret not! All of the exciting interviews, videos, and activities will be available through August 25, 2020! Register to access exclusive content from CRF™ and our event partners.
If you participated live and just couldn't get enough, click here to revisit Coralpalooza™ any time until August 25, 2020.
"Diving In" Editorial Interns
Katie graduated from Towson University in 2019 where she earned a B.S. in Psychology and Animal Behavior. Her love for the water and wildlife began at an early age boating in the waters of her home city, Baltimore, Maryland. During her college career, Katie shared her passion for conservation by volunteering at the National Aquarium and Maryland Zoo. Katie has had the amazing opportunity to travel abroad to sixteen different countries. Discovering the challenges facing reefs ignited her curiosity for coral conservation. She became scuba certified through an Operation Wallacea expedition to South Africa in 2017 and is now PADI Rescue certified. Katie is excited to gain hands-on experience in coral restoration and to make a positive impact on the ecosystem which is home to 25% of marine life.
Aliah is a rising senior at Tulane University in New Orleans majoring in Psychology with minors in Marine Biology and Spanish. Originally from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, she is constantly hopping around the globe. As an artist, Aliah originally planned to pursue a career in fashion design. However, she very quickly discovered she had very little interest in the industry. She began to connect more with the marine world after taking her first marine biology class as a senior in high school. She gained a deep appreciation for the ocean, and an interest in sharks and corals specifically. Her love and passion for the ocean has led her to places like Belize, Indonesia, Lombok, and Australia, participating in both reef conservation and underwater exploration. Aliah sees the ocean as her wonderland, and with each dive grows “curiouser and curiouser”. Constantly on the move, Aliah loves to experience new cultures, people, and places. She is looking forward to learning as much as she can while here at CRF!
Growing up on a lake in North Carolina, Bailey has felt connected to the water for as long as she can remember. She got SCUBA certified when she was ten years old and started taking annual diving trips to Florida where she saw first-hand the decline of coral reefs in the Keys. Knowing that she wanted to make a career in marine conservation, she joined an Operation Wallacea expedition to Greece where she learned her first field work skills. Bailey graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 with a major in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Marine Science. During her four years there, she worked as a research assistant investigating how the calcium carbonate skeleton of corals are affected by ocean warming and acidification. She worked as a summer camp educator at the Discovery Place Nature Museum in North Carolina, teaching students about the natural environment and how to protect it. Bailey is so excited for the opportunity to work with Coral Restoration Foundation™ contributing to its mission of restoring coral reefs.