Updated: Sep 29, 2021
CRF™ VOLUNTEERS LEARN TO RAISE AND RETURN ENDANGERED CORALS TO THE REEF FOR PADI AWARE WEEK
This past week we ran one of our volunteer dive charters (did you know we've started bringing volunteers back on board?!). Volunteers are slowly but surely reintegrating to our programming in a totally new way! To learn more about our new protocols and to sign up to be a volunteer visit coralrestoration.org/volunteering. All interested individuals can complete a Volunteer Application to be put in touch with our Volunteer Coordinator!
This volunteer charter was special not only because it marks a shift to having more volunteers (both new and recurring) come back into our organization but also because it was in honor of PADI Project Aware Week! PADI Aware is a non-profit, publicly funded conservation organization and charity run by PADI that does work around the globe promoting safe diving practices for both divers and the wildlife.
Rainbow Reef and Coral Restoration Foundation™ divers learn to care for corals in the CRF™ nursery for PADI AWARE Week! ©Madalen Howard/Coral Restoration Foundation™
To celebrate, Rainbow Reef Dive Center donated their boat and sent 10 of their staff members with us to learn alongside our volunteers! Our team led divers ranging from new divers to seasoned veteran CRF™ volunteers! For many, it was their first-time working with us and diving in our Tavernier Nursery!
17 divers trained with CRF™ in coral nursery maintenance and restoration methods! ©Madalen Howard/Coral Restoration Foundation™
On their first dive, our Volunteer Coordinator JD, Dive Training Administrator Roxane, and intern Molly took them on a tour through our 1.5 acre Coral Nursery and taught them to navigate it.
CRF™ Volunteer Coordinator JD teaches new volunteers to navigate our 1.5 acre Coral Nursery and to fill coral trees with fragments of staghorn coral. ©Madalen Howard/Coral Restoration Foundation™
The second part of the dive was spent learning about how to clean the trees, how we do our fragging and filling—cutting pieces of coral off and rehanging them on the tree to grow more colonies—and even how to clean the nursery floor of debris!
Seeing these divers, many of whom have years of experience, learn to dive in a new and totally different way than what they’re used to, enjoy themselves, and improve even just between two dives is always rewarding for the Coral Crew.
This charter is a great example of how we grow the existing collaboration we have with Rainbow Reef and continue to encourage people, whether they be a dive shop staff member or a CRF™ Volunteer, to take part in a global conservation movement through our work.
Collaborations like this with local dive shops and members of the community help our work and organization flourish!
TEAM SNORKELING > TEAM DIVING
Dive programs are an impactful way for us to bring the public into our world and give them a glimpse into how coral restoration works. It also gives them an invaluable opportunity to make a tangible difference with their own two hands. But Dive Programs, despite their name, aren’t all about the diving.
CRF™ Volunteers head out to our 1.5 acre nursery learn about coral restoration! ©Madalen Howard/Coral Restoration Foundation™
One of several groups we hosted this past month, Young Professional Yachters, are a group of primarily snorkelers! You read that right, snorkelers are welcome on our public Dive Programs, and it doesn’t in any way lessen their experience. All our snorkelers act as observers and leave our Dive Programs with knowledge and memories they cherish for years.
Offering snorkel versions of our dive program allows us to involve and teach participants at every comfort and ability level. It also shows people that they don’t need to pay for a full SCUBA certification to make a difference.
Lead intern Kendall Fitzgerald said that “With the majority of this dive program snorkeling, we had to be mindful of those above us while we were diving under the surface and pay attention to whether or not they were following along. And snorkeling didn’t take away from their enthusiasm for the program in the slightest. Everyone was extremely eager to learn everything they could about reef recovery and how they could help!”
Being able to give opportunities like this to participants who can’t dive yet because they’re too young, who can’t learn how to dive, or just don’t want to is rewarding in its own way. Seeing how their passion for our work isn’t dampened at all by taking everything in on the surface rather than physically cleaning trees or securing coral to the reef, reminds us that there is more than one way to make change.
Seeing our work up close, sharing that story and experience with others, and making changes to your own lifestyle because of the experience are just as important as returning corals to the reef.
So come and join us on a dive program, even if you aren’t a diver! We love to see your dedication to healthy oceans and can’t wait to get you involved! Click here to check our dive program schedule and sign up for a program today.
RESOURCES FOR YOU
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.
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.