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"Diving In" to October 2020 with the Coral Chronicles

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

BLACK GIRLS DIVE FOUNDATION HELPS RESTORE THE REEF


This month we hosted 8 emerging young scientists from Black Girls Dive Foundation for a CRF™ Dive Program. After giving a detailed presentation on coral biology and our restoration techniques, our Dive Training Administrator, Roxane Boonstra, led the group in a hands-on restoration simulation.


The students practiced placing coral fragments onto a model reef structure using Play-Doh in place of the two-part marine epoxy, and kinetic sand to represent algae that must be cleared to make space for new corals! While the process sounds like recess, the extra practice is vital to build confidence with the techniques before trying them in the field.


Students with the Black Girls Dive Foundation practice coral outplanting technique on a model reefscape. ©Tessa Markham/Coral Restoration Foundation™


These divers were eager and excited to get in the water and see living coral for the first time. The water on the day of our dive was a little bumpy and since these students had never done any diving before our team spent extra time providing support, comfort, and encouragement. Their willingness to try new things, as middle school students, resonated with our staff and made this program stand out.

Two divers from the Black Girls Dive Foundation scrape debris from Coral Trees. © Zach Ransom/Coral Restoration Foundation™


As we moored our boat at the Tavernier Nursery the group’s excitement was palpable. Any nervousness or apprehension disappeared the moment each girl saw the vast expanse of coral trees covering the sandy ocean floor. With a mix of divers and snorkelers, the nursery received lots of love and appreciation. They helped remove algae and fire coral from the lines and branches of the Coral Trees, and knocked off those pesky bivalves too! Because of their efforts, our corals can now grow without competition and stay healthy!

 

NOT YOUR TYPICAL DIVE PROGRAM


This month we’ve experienced typical South Florida fall weather, which includes unpredictable storms and high winds. Because of this adverse weather, seven Dive Programs were unable to get into the water. However, many of these groups still wanted to participate in our the hands-on training activity and learn about issues surrounding coral reefs.


Students with the Black Girls Dive Foundation take notes on coral biology and conservation ©Tessa Markham/Coral Restoration Foundation™


We are truly excited when people continue to show interest in our reef restoration efforts even though they may not make it into the water with us. Hopefully, anyone who has joined us for this training has the opportunity to visit CRF again and get the chance to see our nursery and outplant coral!

 

LEARNING THE ROPES


On October 16th, the weather turned in our favor and another CRF™ Dive Program made it out to Carysfort Reef. This group hailed from all over the US and everyone was eager to learn about and be a part of our coral restoration effort. We carefully watched the weather, as conditions had been unpredictable. Fortunately, it remained calm enough to step off the boat and into the big blue.

Birdseye view of Carysfort Reef and the famous Carysfort lighthouse. © Coral Restoration Foundation™

“It’s incredibly rewarding being involved with the dive programs. I could relate to our participants, since I only recently learned how to clean trees and outplant myself! I was glad to add a different perspective to their experience,” said CRF™ Intern Elly Perez.

At the nursery the divers were able to experience the work that CRF™ does on a regular basis. They were a huge help with our routine Coral Tree™ cleaning and maintenance. While the participants were working hard, the CRF™ Coral Crew prepared Staghorn coral for outplanting.

Left: A diver scrapes algae and other debris off the branches of a coral tree. Right: Staghorn coral outplants on Carysfort Reef. © Coral Restoration Foundation™


In total, 30 corals were placed on Carysfort Reef, making this site even more beautiful and healthy than before.  A big thank you must go out to Silent World Dive Center for taking our dive programs out this month. Your commitment to our coral reefs comes through rain or shine!

 

Editor

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 Interns

Andrew was raised in West Palm Beach, Florida and spent many hours in the Atlantic Ocean swimming and snorkeling as a child. He graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and minors in biology and mathematics. In school, he researched marine gastropods and conducted sea turtle tagging surveys. After graduating, Andrew wanted to dive (no pun intended) into the world of marine conservation and do something to make a tangible difference for the ocean. After completing 50 dives in the Upper Keys and witnessing ghastly coral graveyards, struggling ecosystems, and degraded portions of the Florida Barrier Reef, Andrew was inspired to apply to CRF™ to actively help restore our beloved marine ecosystem. He is super excited to join the CRF™ family and learn a variety of skills both above and below the surface. In his spare time, Andrew loves playing any and all sports and watching Marvel movies on repeat.

Gabrielle Rosenbacher grew up in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, she has been passionate about wildlife conservation since she can remember. She became PADI certified at 10 years old in the Koh Pi Pi Islands in Thailand. Gabrielle received a BA in Environmental Studies - Ecology & Conservation from the University of Vermont. A semester of her studies was spent in the Turks & Caicos Islands at the School for Field Studies - Center for Marine Resource Studies, further growing her passion for marine conservation and diving. Following university, Gabrielle lived in the Canary Islands, where she received her Divemaster and PADI Instructor qualifications, as well as numerous specialty certifications. Since then, she led a non-profit marine conservation organization in Caye Caulker, Belize, as the project coordinator. Gabrielle would like to continue devoting her life to marine conservation and working with non-profit organizations.

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