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"Diving In" to October 2021 with the Coral Chronicles

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

MAKE-A-WISH UPON A STAR CORAL

This past week, Coral Restoration Foundation™ had the unique pleasure of hosting a wonderful girl named Olivia for a private Dive Program courtesy of the Make-a-Wish Foundation. After watching Chasing Coral, her love of the ocean expanded into a desire to do something about it; she wanted to help save the reefs. That is where Make-A-Wish reached out to CRF™.

CRF™ Education Program Intern Molly teaches Olivia about coral slime as she makes her own! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™


Since a visit to our offshore nursery and reef wasn’t possible, Olivia received a special CRF™ experience. With the help of our Education Program Intern Molly Whiting, Olivia participated in two of our edutainment workshops, something that few Dive Program participants get to do.


The first edutainment activity was Appetizing Acropora where you build a coral polyp out of marshmallows, Twizzlers, and Ritz crackers. Not only is this a tasty workshop, but you learn all about coral polyp anatomy and how they hunt and feed. The second edutainment workshop that Molly led Olivia and her parents through was Maritime Slime. Always a winner, this one gets a bit messy but teaches you all about coral’s mucous and its many purposes.


This Dive Program also felt special because it was just Olivia and her parents. This meant that she was able to ask every question and our Coral Crew could really take the time to answer all her curiosities. We are so glad that she enjoyed herself and learned all about coral and coral restoration. Helping her achieve her dream of becoming a marine biologist, we have given her honorary status on our Coral Crew!

 

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS LEARN TO PROPAGATE CORALS ON A CRF™ DIVE PROGRAM

Many participants of our public Dive Programs only get to join us once or twice. But as a result of ongoing, prolonged relationships, some programs and participants join us several times a year! One of these programs is the SCUBA Gang through the Community School of Naples, who bring both new SCUBA divers and repeat divers to CRF™ several months of the year! Those of you that have been subscribed to and reading Coral Chronicles for months might remember our Battling Biofoul Student Challenge back in April 2021, which was awarded to a member of the Community School of Naples SCUBA Gang. This month, we welcomed back new and repeat participants.

CRF™ Dive Programs bring divers and snorkelers to our open ocean coral nurseries! ©Alex Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™


Since many of these young SCUBA divers have joined a CRF™ program several times, we felt it was time to give them a challenge! Not only did they practice established skills like how to clean Coral Trees™ but they learned new practices like how to propagate corals using asexual fragmentation methods aka frag and fill.

For those who are new here, “frag and fill” is the term our divers use to mean breaking a piece of coral (thus cloning it) and rehanging it on the tree so that a new colony will grow. Because of the technical nature of “frag and fill”, most Dive Programs do not have the opportunity to do this. Thanks to their repeat experience over the last several years, CRF™ was confident in the SCUBA Gang’s ability to safely propagate the corals in our nursery!

Kendall Fitzgerald, a lead intern who acted as Coral Crew for their second day, said “I really enjoyed interacting with participants who had previously worked with us and had familiarity with our cleaning practices. They were so capable that they were even able to help with frag and fill! I have never been on a Dive Program that has done that. It is technical, and they handled it with skill and enthusiasm. It was great to see!”

This Dive Program marks the eighth SCUBA Gang program. They have been able to really dig in and learn deeply in a way that many Dive Program participants are not able to simply because there is not time.

CRF™ uses coral's natural form of asexual reproduction, fragmentation, to propagate thousands of reef ready corals each year! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™


Extending education in this way is something that we take pride in at CRF™. While our one-day Dive Programs are amazing, allowing people to dip their toes into conservation, this kind of repeat interaction and repeat learning allows students to truly hone their field work skills. Students like these are the future of conservation, and we cannot wait to see them for Dive Program number nine next time!

 

RESOURCES FOR YOU


WE ARE HIRING

We are seeking a Restoration Program Manager that will embody a quality approach to coral reef restoration that includes adaptation and improvements that produce positive results. Details available on our website: http://coralrestoration.org/careers


Because our volunteers have not worked in coral restoration for over a year, we are currently focused on training.


We hope you will join us as we begin to reintegrate volunteers slowly and safely into our practice!


The safety of the volunteers is our top priority, to find out what is required to qualify for our Volunteer Program and fill out an application please visit https://www.coralrestoration.org/volunteering.





Atlantis Dive Resorts has teamed with three incredible NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) including Coral Restoration Foundation™ to bring coral restoration to the heart and core of their programs.


You can now participate in a fulfilling week at the Dumaguete Atlantis Dive Resort in The Philippines! Help build and maintain the largest coral nursery in Dauin!





 

"Diving In" Editorial Intern

Tessa Markham (they/them) is a recent graduate of Skidmore College, with a BA in English and Environmental Studies. They grew up in Wilton, in southwestern Connecticut, but spent their summers either hiking and camping in the woods or swimming and sailing on the water. They have always been passionate about climate change and conservation. Diving for the first time in 2014 while taking a marine conservation course in the Caribbean leeward islands, they quickly amassed dives and got their PADI Instructor certification just three years

later. Just after completing their instructor training, they spent nearly a month on the Yucatan Peninsula conducting research on their reefs, looking at the ratio of soft versus stony coral death. They later channeled their distress at the degradation of the reefs to write a short story about coral bleaching, which was published in Volume 5 of the Oakland Arts Review in 2020. Their capstone thesis built on this theme and they wrote a collection of four creative short stories that detail and exemplify climate change-induced environmental damage through a narrative lens. They aim to combine their degrees and experiences to make a career in science communications, making research and conservation accessible to everybody.

 

Editor

Madalen Howard (she/her) 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.

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