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"Diving In" to May with the Coral Chronicles


Dr. Joe Dirturi, a member of the CRF™ Dive Safety Board and former US Navy Diver, is setting the world record for the most time spent in an undersea habitat. His goal is to live and work underwater for 100 days. So how does one stay entertained for so much time in a 600 square foot box at the bottom of the ocean? Well, you invite house guests!

Madalen and Joe discuss all things coral during her visit to his 100 day stay under the sea! ©Adele Luta

Madalen Howard, the CRF™ Communications Coordinator, spent a few hours with Joe in the Jules Undersea Lodge the Friday before mother's day, but this wasn't her first visit. In 2018 Madalen spent 24 hours in the undersea lodge emerging a certified aquanaut!

Before speaking about what it is like to work with CRF™ Joe was curious about how Madalen found a career in marine science after growing up in landlocked Tennessee. Well, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree because Madalen first fell in love with the ocean by listening to stories her mother told about her own studies as a marine biologist, particularly a week spent living underwater in NOAA's Hydrolab habitat in the 1980s.

Madalen's mother, Wendy, as she dons her 1980s SCUBA gear before entering NOAA's underwater habitat, Hydrolab! ©Madalen Howard

To hear the full story of two female aquanauts through the generations click the video below!

Madalen also joined former NASA mission controller Adele Luta inside of the underwater habitat to discuss being a woman in science and how there are many pathways to becoming a scientist! For the full discussion check out the link below!



Coral Restoration Foundation™ has united with the College of the Florida Keys this year, and the program has concluded to rave reviews from participants! Throughout the spring semester, CRF™ helped teach Dr. Abigail Clark’s Field Application of Marine Science: Restoration of Coral Reefs class. The students learned a wide variety of skills over the course of 5 class days, from making monofilament loops to outplanting corals!

Collaborations with schools highlight what a significant impact building relationships in the local community can have. Large scale, massive action is what will be required to save the reefs, and this is one of the most productive ways to go about it. This is a long-term collaboration where CRF™ hopes to inspire and train the future generations of ocean stewards, showing them that there is hope in what they can accomplish together.

Dr. Abigail Clark’s Field Application of Marine Science: Restoration of Coral Reefs class joins CRF™ restoration divers for a day in the field! ©Dr. Abigail Clark

Effective community partnerships are crucial in achieving long-term success in conservation efforts. This is especially true for marine conservation, where the cooperation of local communities is essential in protecting and restoring critical ecosystems like coral reefs. By building these community relationships, Coral Restoration Foundation™ is not only educating future generations about the importance of coral reef conservation but also fostering a long-term partnership that can grow and evolve to include more students, educators, and community members. Through these collaborative efforts, we are creating a network of passionate individuals who can work together to protect and restore coral reefs for generations to come.

The partnership between Coral Restoration Foundation™ and the College of the Florida Keys began with Dr. Abigail Clark's Field Application of Marine Science class. This class provided students with hands-on experience in reef restoration practices, including coral propagation and outplanting. By working with CRF™, students were able to learn from experts in the field and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of coral reef conservation.

Restored corals placed by CRF™ begin to regrow in the wild. ©Alexander Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™

During the first classroom session, Coral Restoration Foundation and the College of the Florida Keys went over the basics of coral restoration, including the techniques used to propagate and outplant coral. This foundational knowledge is crucial for students to understand before they can participate in hands-on restoration work in the field! This type of education allows for the next generation of conservationists to understand the importance of coral restoration, and to take up the mantle in protecting and preserving these vital ecosystems.

In the second classroom session, CRF™ and the College of the Florida Keys took a hands-on approach to coral restoration. Students learned how to make monofilament loops, a key tool used in coral restoration, and were taught how to hang the corals on the unique coral trees used by Coral Restoration Foundation. By engaging students in these practical activities, Coral Restoration Foundation is not only teaching students about coral restoration techniques but also giving them the skills they need to participate in restoration efforts themselves.

For the third meeting of the class, Coral Restoration Foundation™ and the College of the Florida Keys took students on a scientific boat trip to visit coral nursery in Key West. During this trip, students were able to take part in the maintenance and cleaning of coral trees in the nursery. This hands-on experience allowed students to see the results of their classroom instruction and gain a deeper understanding of the practical applications of coral restoration.

CRF™ divers clean Coral Trees™ frequently to rid them of biofoul like algae. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™ and Dr. Abigail Clark

During the fourth meeting of the class, Coral Restoration Foundation and the College of the Florida Keys returned to the coral nursery to perform more cleaning and maintenance on the coral trees. After the first dive, the group visited an old restoration site where prior outplants were thriving, allowing the students to see the success of Coral Restoration Foundation's work. This field trip not only provided an opportunity for students to witness the results of their efforts firsthand but also allowed them to learn how to monitor and measure the success of previous out plants. By engaging students in this type of fieldwork, Coral Restoration Foundation is empowering them with the tools they need to become effective conservationists in the future. Through this type of practical education, students are not only learning about the importance of coral restoration but also contributing to the ongoing efforts to protect and preserve our coral reefs.

The final meeting of the class was the culmination of all the work that Coral Restoration Foundation and the College of the Florida Keys had done together! During this meeting, the students were finally able to put all of their classroom knowledge and hands-on skills into practice by participating in a coral outplanting project! The group successfully outplanted 65 individual corals, allowing the students to fully develop their skills in the practice of coral restoration and make a tangible impact on the environment. This experience not only gave the students a sense of accomplishment but also provided them with the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the ongoing efforts to preserve and protect our coral reefs.

By engaging with the community in this way, Coral Restoration Foundation™ is fostering a sense of responsibility and stewardship towards the environment among the next generation of conservationists.

Divers prepare to return staghorn corals to the wild! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

The partnership between Coral Restoration Foundation and the College of the Florida Keys has proven to be a valuable investment in the future of our coral reefs. By providing students with a comprehensive education and on-the-job training in coral restoration practices, Coral Restoration Foundation is genuinely contributing to the development of the next generation of conservationists. The students who participated in this program are the ones who will be leading the way in protecting and preserving our coral reefs in the future, and this partnership has ensured that they are well-equipped with the knowledge and skills to do so. As Coral Restoration Foundation continues to build these types of community partnerships, we are committing to a more sustainable and vibrant future for our oceans and the communities that depend on them.




Coralpalooza™ is a life-affirming opportunity to be part of large-scale massive action to save and restore our world's coral reefs. At Coralpalooza™, you can join forces with volunteers, local communities, and international partners to restore and protect the heart of our oceans' biodiversity.

Coralpalooza™ Dive Day 2021 brought together hundreds of ocean advocates who helped our team monitor restoration sites! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

On Saturday, June 10th, we have a veritable armada of boats leaving from the Upper and Lower Keys for a day of active coral reef restoration on Florida's Coral Reef, working alongside the CRF™ team! This is Coralpalooza™ Dive Day!

Not a SCUBA diver? No problem! Coralpalooza™ Festival will have fun and games for the whole family!

Simultaneously on Saturday June 10th, we will be hosting events in both Key Largo and Key West with kayaking, yard games, food & drinks, and prizes up for grabs.! Details are coming soon, be the first to know by RSVPing "GOING" to our Facebook event page linked here:

Coralpalooza™ 2019 was a major hit with both land-based events and on-water action! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™


"Diving In" Editorial Intern

Stephen grew up in Fairhope, Alabama spending his childhood in the waters along the Gulf Coast. He first became interested in diving while visiting the Mel Fisher Museum in Key West. His love for diving and exploring the in-water environments grew from there. Attending Auburn University, he studied marine biology and sustainability, while also teaching the SCUBA classes offered by the University. While at Auburn, he took courses at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, studying marine behavioral ecology and seagrasses.

Teaching diving throughout college allowed Stephen the opportunity to explore many of the reefs around the Caribbean, truly seeing the differences between a healthy reef ecosystem and those that have degraded. He moved to the Upper Keys two years ago to teach diving, and to put his experience in the water to work. He comes to CRF after earning his AAUS accreditation thru FIU, and ready to make a difference for the Florida Keys Reef Tract.

Coral Chronicles Editor

Madalen Howard (she/her) is CRF's Communications and Outreach Coordinator. She 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, marketing and digital communications.

With CRF™ Madalen creates inclusive pathways to scientific discovery through content creation and by building and fostering relationships with press, digital media creators, and local community members. Throughout her life Madalen has had a skill connecting people with nature, and is excited to bring people into the world of coral restoration. .

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