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"Diving In" to July 2022 with the Coral Chronicles


DIARY OF A DIVE PROGRAM INTERN

Julian, the newest Dive Program Intern for CRF™, left his studio apartment in Tavernier and headed to the CRF™ Exploration Center, 5 Seagate Blvd, to lead a recreational Dive Program. But this time was different than all his past Dive Programs, this time, he was in charge. Having completed all his training with CRF™ Dive Training Administrator, Roxane, and having led countless Dive Programs while supervised, Julian was ready to take his leadership to the next level.

All CRF™ interns are trained to teach our Public Dive and Snorkel Programs. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

The air was hot and humid, with the dew point just 10 degrees below the actual temperature. Sweat was already beading down Julian’s face while shrugged his shoulders admitting defeat to the onslaught of heat that was representative of summertime in the Florida Keys.  Julian was ready! He had been preparing for this moment since the day he began as an intern with CRF™ over 9 months ago, and he knew that this was his moment to shine.  William, a fellow CRF intern, was joining him on this Dive Program as part of the Coral Crew. Calm and composed, Julian pushed open the doors of the CRF™ Exploration Center and headed into the classroom with inspiration and excitement!

After greeting the participants and breezing through the Dive Program presentation Julian started on the hands-on portion of the educational session, giving participants practice using the tools to clean Coral Trees™ and outplant on the reef. After learning the skills they would need to be successful in the water everyone left the CRF™ Exploration Center and made their way to Sea Dwellers, the collaborating dive charter for this trip.

Everyone was excited to get in the water and care for the Coral Trees™ in our nursery. Under the waves Julian and Will organized the Dive Program participants in a semi-circle and proceeded to pair them up, give them their cleaning tools, and assigning each pari a Coral Tree™ to start cleaning.  Julian and William then headed to Coral Trees™ in row A, a little bit away from the group, but still in eye sight, to harvest corals for outplanting.  After a successful nursery dive everyone got back on the boat and Sea Dwellers headed to Pickles Reef, one of many CRF™ restoration sites. 

Once arriving at Pickles Reef Julian was met with a common challenge. All of the mooring buoys were occupied by other boats. Fortunately working in the Keys means almost every dive boat captain knows one another and the community works well together to be respectful of everyone's time on the reef. The captain at Sea Dwellers radioed one of the boats which happened to be another CRF™ collaborator Rainbow Reef. As the two captains spoke and worked out a mooring buoy switch, Julian and William hopped in the water in their snorkel gear and looked for the outplant site that had been assigned to them by the CRF™ restoration team.

Mooring buoys allow captains to secure their boats next to the reef without throwing an anchor into the water. ©Coral Restoratino Foundation™


After several loops around the boat they just could not find their mapped location and the Julian was beginning to think the sweat on his forehead was from more than just the heat. Fortunately Julian's 9 months of training and experience with CRF™ gave him the confidence to select a new location. It was not the assigned location he had been given but Julian knew based on his map and gps that it fell within the designated restoration zone for Pickles Reef. He'd just have to write down his gps points and let the restoration team know when he got back to land. No problem!

The Dive Program participants got in the water and started outplanting.  They were all amazing underwater and both Will and Julian had a great time teaching the participants how to safely and effectively return corals to the reef. Part of leading a Dive Program is realizing that obstacles and problems along the way will undoubtedly present themselves but with the proper training, resources, and experience our interns are able to adapt and problem solve effectively!

Dive Program participants help CRF™ staff return corals to the wild. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™


A variety of factors can affect a Dive Program including weather changes, mechanical problems with boats or with cars, and extraneous circumstances like someone's dog eating there Dive Program liability form! It is most important that the Dive Program participants are safe and have fun while learning about and supporting CRF's mission.

Now, Julian is looking to the future, with up to 4 Dive Programs a week, we have a busy summer ahead of our Dive Program team, but with the support and guidance of Roxane and the rest of the CRF™ staff, plus a great group of fellow interns to assist him, Julian is confident that he will be able to inspire many others to get involved and help restore coral reefs!

 

Written By:

"Diving In" Editorial Intern

Julian Maheu hails from New York City, but spent time every winter with his grandmother on

Sanibel Island, FL observing the devastating effects of the annual "red tide" aka harmful algal bloom—it was here that his interest in ocean conservation began. After two stints at “Whale Camp,” in Canada’s Bay of Fundy and a summer research internship studying oyster genetics in Southern Jersey, Julian has developed a passionate commitment to studying marine fauna and promoting wildlife conservation. A recent graduate of Rutgers University with a BS in Marine Science and a minor in Fisheries Science, Julian has spent a lot of time under water acquiring his PADI Divemaster and AAUS Scientific Diver certifications and 5 specialties. During his semester abroad at the Center for Marine Resource Studies in the Turks and Caicos Islands, he conducted field research on the health of marine fauna relative to nearby MPAs. As he collected data on the abundance and distribution of Nassau Groupers and the bleaching of coral reefs, he saw firsthand the ongoing degradation of coral reefs. Julian is excited to join CRF™ as an intern and contribute to ongoing efforts to conserve our reefs!

 

Coral Chronicles Editor

Madalen Howard (she/her) is CRF's Communications and Outreach Coordinator. 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.

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