BLUE PLANET - KEEPING IT BLUE
Blue Planet SCUBA from Washington, DC is not your average dive shop. These divers go above and beyond the “basics of diving” by educating their students about the local ecosystems in which they will be diving. Blue Planet believes that through education and helping their community dive sustainably, they can help restore the health of our oceans!
High winds almost affected their mission, but after a nail-biting day waiting to see if the conditions would calm down to a safe level, we were able to get out to the Tavernier Nursery! On our second dive, 42 staghorn corals were returned in excellent condition to their new home on Pickles Reef.
Photo credit: Joseph Garcia
Bruce and Gail share their experience with us:
From Bruce Piercey: When I participated in CRF's coral restoration program, I was impressed with the enthusiasm and passion of the staff as they shared their knowledge of coral and the important role that coral plays in maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem. Not only did I learn a lot about the challenges that corals face, I also learned steps that I can take to help protect and restore the coral reef. The volunteer work I did cleaning coral trees at the nursery and planting coral on the reef was both fascinating and rewarding. I’m excited about the possibility of helping CRF in the future.
Photo credit: Patti Gross
From Gail Ledford: I loved the coral restoration PADI specialty course and the experience provided by Coral Restoration Foundation. It was life-changing. I’ve been diving for 21 years, and although I’m conservation-minded and have had a life-long love and appreciation of the ocean, my sense of responsibility and knowledge about actions I can take to contribute positively to our oceans' sustainability has given me a renewed sense of commitment, purpose, and joy about diving. The passion and energy the CRF team shared about their work was “contagiously” outstanding!
Last month, we were excited to welcome journalists from all over France taking a media trip in the Keys. Despite their jam-packed schedule, they found time to spend an entire day with us! It started with in-depth morning education presented by Roxane, our Dive Program and Volunteer Coordinator, and then an afternoon snorkel trip to the Tavernier Nursery and Pickles Reef! Communications intern, Sabine, was eager to lead the afternoon program and give the nursery tour in french. On their next snorkel, they went scavenger hunting for coral outplants on Pickles 2, and were happy to see them growing! They were even visited by a couple nurse sharks, a first for many of the journalists!
Photo credit: Sabine Bailey
Francois Rouselle, from Journaliste Paris, describes his experience seeing our nursery (translated from french):
“Magical moments. Seeing the coral trees was almost out of this world, and it was amazing to see the application after we learned about them in theory in the morning. The trees are a beautiful thing for the world of coral. We hope that the state of corals gets better but the work here is great. Best of luck and thank you.”
Do you dive regularly with dive operators in the Keys? Keep your eyes peeled. You may just be in the company of a CRF™ team member! Our citizen science program was developed to raise awareness about coral conditions on local reefs. We accomplish this by sending one of our best and most energetic to join local dive trips, and act as a resource for all things coral for divers on the boat. Divers are encouraged to ask questions, and they even have the option to join the CRF™ team member to spot our corals during their dive. This past month, CRF™ intern Olivia Smith brought our message to Horizon Divers. Let's hear about it from Olivia herself:
“I completed a citizen science day on September 26th with Horizon Divers. It was a beautiful day for diving, and I was able to join in on the morning dives to North North Dry Rocks and the Underwater Highway! Before boarding the boat, I met the four other divers who would be on the boat with me. We all introduced ourselves and got to talking about where we came from and what we were doing in the Keys. I shared my adventure here and told them a little about CRF. Then, on our way out to the reefs, I was able to give more of a formal, short spiel on CRF. I definitely piqued their interest, handed out our pamphlets, and answered their questions. They were all intrigued by our work and wanted to join in on a dive program, volunteer with us, and even donate to the cause. On our dives, I pointed out some beautiful elkhorn corals and funky critters I saw. Overall, it was a great experience and I think these citizen scientist days are excellent ways to casually spread awareness! It is also great to be able to talk about the state of our reefs and then actually dive on them a few minutes later to really drive in the point that they are suffering and need our help!”
- Olivia Smith
Citizen Science is a neat opportunity for CRF™ to interact with varying ranges of coral restoration awareness, and we hope to see you soon!
This fall we're focusing on our Key West Dive Programs, and invite you all to join us in our coral restoration work in the Lower Keys. The second restoration adventure in the Lower Keys is scheduled for Sunday, November 3rd. Begin your morning with Coral Restoration Foundation™ for an educational discussion about coral and our work, and then apply this knowledge in the water with CRF™ and Captain’s Corner for a hands-on, tailored SCUBA diving or snorkeling program! Our programs are designed to suit all levels, so all ocean lovers can have a positive impact.
Photo courtesy of Captain's Corner
Key West Nursery. Photo credit: Tiffany Duong
Please note: all in-water activities are weather dependent.
"Diving In" Editorial Intern
Samantha graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Marine Science. She first began her coral reef adventures as a toddler peering through a tiny pink mask over the side of a boogie board. Her passion for reef conservation launched after a summer vacation in which she had intended to return to her favorite snorkeling site, only to find white corals remaining in the place of a once flourishing reef. As a student, Samantha became involved in the University of Florida Scientific Diver program where she gained fieldwork experience and went on to become an NAUI Instructor. Post-graduate, Samantha has worked as a Marine Science instructor for Seacamp Association Inc. Samantha is thrilled to learn from CRF™ team and to become a contributing member in the restoration efforts of coral populations.