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"Diving In" to September 2021 with the Coral Chronicles

Updated: Sep 7, 2021


THE NEXT GENERATION OF CORAL SCIENTISTS

In March 2021, Coral Restoration Foundation™ and the Boy Scouts of America’s Florida Sea Base began a conversation around how to excite young people about ocean health, and more specifically coral restoration. Now, at the end of the summer, it is incredible to see how much we have grown from those initial conversations just six short months ago.

CRF™ Intern Lindsey led SeaBase programs all summer, spearheading this collaboration. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™


Throughout this summer, co-ed Scouts aged 12-18 from around the country learned what it means to be a coral restoration scientist. They toured and cleaned our Tavernier Coral Nursery, learned about coral reef ecology, and even returned corals to the wild with their own two hands!

A CRF™ intern and SeaBase diver restore corals side by side. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™


They restored so many corals, in fact, the Scouts exceeded the 2021 restoration goal set by CRF™ for Alligator Reef in Islamorada. We aimed to return 200 corals to Alligator Reef and the Scouts helped us return 210 in total! When you remember that many of the scouts have never been SCUBA diving and are still in middle school, that feat becomes even more astonishing.

“It was an absolute joy to be a part of this project from conception to completion of the first season. The planning and all of the other prep work that comes along with creating this type of program was all well worth it! We had so many engaged students who seemed to really enjoy the new program.
I’m excited to watch this program, and the students, continue to grow” -Lindsey Smith

This new program exposed over 1,200 students to the world of coral restoration! With outreach like that, it looks like there are some exciting things in store for future coral reef restoration!

 

CRF™ COULDN'T RAISE THE REEF WITHOUT YOU

During our Dive Programs everyday people help us maintain our offshore Coral Tree™ nurseries and return corals to the reef themselves. They get to partake in citizen science, support our mission, and swim through landscapes few humans will ever see in their lifetimes!

Dive Program participants make great progress cleaning Coral Trees™ ©Coral Restoration Foundation™


This month we focused on touring our nurseries (some of the most unique structures in the

world if you ask us), and cleaning Coral Trees™. Dive Program participants have been able to spend extra time in our nurseries and really experience the daily life of a CRF™ diver! One group of just 6 divers managed to clean 4 trees entirely in one dive, while another group of 5 divers cleaned 1 tree each! That is over 400ft of PVC scrubbed squeaky clean!


Keeping up with biofoul maintenance is a Sisyphean task, no matter how many times we scrub algae away, it grows back. The people who come on our Dive Programs make a significant contribution to our mission. Without the aid of our Dive Program participants our staff would not have the time to focus on endeavors like coral spawning research, pillar coral propagation, or any of our other scientific collaborations.


If you have been looking for a way to make a tangible impact on ocean health, we would love to bring you out with us. Our Dive Programs are truly a one-of-a-kind experience. There is nothing quite like seeing an open ocean coral nursery, much less ensuring its survival.

A CRF™ Dive Program participant scrapes biofoul from a particularly encrusted Coral Tree™. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

 

RESOURCES FOR YOU


VOLUNTEER RESTORATION DIVERS ARE BACK AT CRF™


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


Charis grew up in Michigan where her curiosity for the underwater world started in the local rivers and lakes. She always had a passion for marine biology. While she was in high school, her family unexpectedly had to relocate to coastal Georgia. Moving across the country allowed her to pursue her passion. After learning about the threats and harm humans have caused to coral reefs, she decided she did not want to just study coral reefs, but she wanted to be a part of the solution.


Charis is a recent graduate from the University of Houston-Clear Lake with a M.S. in Biotechnology and a concentration in Molecular Biotechnology. She received her B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Coastal Ecology from the College of Coastal Georgia in 2017. She is a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor and has enjoyed working as a dive professional in the British Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys. Charis is excited to intern with CRF™ because she is passionate about educating the public on how to protect our oceans.


"Coral Chronicles" Editorial Intern


Tessa Markham is a recent graduate of Skidmore College, with a BA in English and Environmental Studies. She grew up in Wilton, in southwestern Connecticut, but spent her summers growing up either hiking and camping in the woods or swimming and sailing on the water. She has 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, she quickly amassed dives and got her PADI Instructor certification just three years


later. Just after completing her instructor training, she spent nearly a month on the Yucatan Peninsula conducting research on their reefs, looking at the ratio of soft versus stony coral death. She later channeled her 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. Her capstone thesis built on this theme and she wrote a collection of four creative short stories that detail and exemplify climate change-induced environmental damage through a narrative lens. She aims to combine her degrees and experiences to make a career in science communications, making research and conservation accessible to everybody.

 

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.

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