Updated: Sep 7, 2021
This month was a huge hit for Dive Programs! Not only did we run our typical one day programs but we worked with a few private groups to make their experience extra special. Read the short stories of three of our most memorable Dive Programs from the past month.
DIVING WITH A PURPOSE
Diving With a Purpose have been joining us on Dive Programs for over 5 years, this month they brought 11 individuals back to us! They started the day with a presentation about what Coral Restoration Foundation™ is and learned about the science behind our work in coral reef restoration. This was followed by hands on training to clean biofoul off our Coral Trees™ and return coral to the reef in a process known to the science community as coral outplanting.
Divers with a CRF™ Dive Program learn to outplant corals (with supervision) in just one day of training!
Our first dive was in our Tavernier Nursery one of 7 off shore nurseries where we care for our corals. Our Tavernier Nursery is also the largest of our nurseries covering 1.5 acres of seafloor and housing over 500 Coral Trees™!
The Diving With a Purpose group cleaned several Coral Trees™ protecting our corals from competition and reducing the buildup of biofoul which weighs down our floating trees. Then our Coral Crew harvested staghorn coral which the group returned to Pickles Reef during their second dive. All together they returned 70 corals to the reef in just one dive!
Dive Georgia also had 11 people join us for a Dive Program, but their training took place over two days based on the needs of their group. On the second day of their program our Coral Crew greeted them bright and early, ready for a full day of diving.
We stared dive #1 with a tour of our Tavernier Nursery (remember this is the nursery with over 500 Trees and 1.5 acres to explore!). A special treat for this dive group was a pit stop to check in on our pillar corals. These corals are highly endangered and CRF™ is currently working to fragment them and eventually return them to the reef!
CRF™ is caring for and propagating pillar corals in our nurseries with the goal of eventually returning them to the reef!
After this special pit stop Dive Georgia gave the Nursery some much needed love. We spent 2 more dives maintaining and cleaning both staghorn and elkhorn Coral Trees™! Dive Georgia was a lucky group. Because they spent 3 dives exploring our Coral Nursery they were able to see both of our Coral Tree™ designs (branching coral and boulder corals are raised on different types of Coral Trees™) and 3 of our 11 species of corals! Our team could spend DAYS exploring just one of our Nurseries and we are always so proud to share them with fellow ocean stewards on our Dive Programs.
LIVING PLANET AQUARIUM
One day of diving with CRF™ was not enough for the 10 employees and volunteers from Living Planet Aquarium. They joined us for a full week and helped us work towards our restoration goals in the water and on land!
Coral Tree™ maintenance is a tricky business. It is important to ensure the buoyant tree is secure before releasing it from its anchor.
7 of these participants received the PADI Coral Restoration Distinctive Specialty Certification, 3 individuals previously earned this certification with us. They completed a full day of education about restoration and then joined us under the water. This course requires a minimum of two days and is only offered to private group dive programs registered in advance.
We got a lot of work done in the 7 dives this group did. They returned 345 staghorn corals to Pickles Reef and replaced 3 coral trees in the Tavernier Nursery! They also volunteered on land. In two hours, they made over 700, yes you read that right, 700 mono filament loops that we use to hang corals on Coral Trees™. We look forward to working with more individuals from Living Planet Aquarium soon!
Madalen Howard is CRF's Marketing Associate. Madalen 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, and communications.
Madalen spent the last 4 years as a Field Instructor and Social Media Strategist for MarineLab Environmental Education Center. Here she was able to study and teach marine ecology, while snorkeling through mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs every day. While at MarineLab she combined her education and research background, entered the world of communications, and developed MarineLab’s social media department from the ground up.
Throughout her life Madalen has had a skill connecting people with nature. With CRF™, she is excited to bring people into the world of coral restoration, creating inclusive pathways to scientific discovery.
"Diving In" Editorial Intern
Charis grew up in Michigan where her curiosity for the underwater world started in the local rivers and lakes. She always had a passion for marine biology. While she was in high school, her family unexpectedly had to relocate to coastal Georgia. Moving across the country allowed her to pursue her passion. After learning about the threats and harm humans have caused to coral reefs, she decided she did not want to just study coral reefs, but she wanted to be a part of the solution.
Charis is a recent graduate from the University of Houston-Clear Lake with a M.S. in Biotechnology and a concentration in Molecular Biotechnology. She received her B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Coastal Ecology from the College of Coastal Georgia in 2017. She is a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor and has enjoyed working as a dive professional in the British Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys. Charis is excited to intern with CRF™ because she is passionate about educating the public on how to protect our oceans.