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"Heads Up" in April 2023 with the Coral Chronicles

Plastic to Fantastic: MasterCard Builds Coral Trays for a Cause with Coral Restoration Foundation™!

500 MasterCard executives from around the globe gathered in Miami for a team building conference hosted by MasterCard. But it wasn't all about work – MasterCard wanted to make a difference in the world and give back to the South Florida community. Enter Coral Restoration Foundation™ (CRF™), as an organization dedicated to educating the public on the importance of our oceans and saving coral reefs from extinction this pairing was an impactful match!

Megan Fryer, CRF™ Dive Training Associate, presents the mission and accomplishments for 500 MasterCard representatives. ©Madalen Howard/Coral Restoration Foundation™

The event kicked off with an engaging presentation by Megan Fryer, CRF™ Dive Training Associate, on the significance of coral reefs and our organization's mission to restore them. Next up was a trivia game, which saw participants racking their brains about MasterCard and coral reef knowledge. And just when you thought things couldn't get any better, the main event turned each MasterCard representative into a CRF™ volunteer for 1 hour! The participants worked together to build over 100 Coral Tree™ boulder coral trays for CRF™!

In order to accomplish this feat, MasterCard donated all of the supplies needed including PVC pipes and joints, glue, and mallets. CRF™ interns and staff then worked tirelessly to prepare the supplies, cutting them to size and organizing them by dimensions, like legos, and writing easy-to-follow instruction manuals. At the event, the intern and staff team supervised and assisted the MasterCard representatives as they put together the boulder trays. The group created over 100 trays, capable of holding over 7,000 boulder corals that will help jumpstart expansion efforts in CRF's nurseries!

The CRF™ event organizer, Chandler Wright, supports the teams as they build boulder coral trays to be used in CRF™ nurseries. ©Madalen Howard/Coral Restoration Foundation™

The event was a great success, leaving the MasterCard participants with the knowledge that they directly contributed to moving our mission forward and a better understanding of the major threats coral reefs are facing. Some of the participants came from locations without any coral reefs, making the experience even more special. Armed with their newfound knowledge, the participants left with the ability to spread the word about coral reefs and CRF's mission around the world. Thank you so much to MasterCard for supporting our mission on multiple levels!

Over 100 boulder coral trays were made by MasterCard volunteers! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™ ©Madalen Howard/Coral Restoration Foundation™



You might know that "Heads Up" with the Coral Chronicles details the actions of our Education Team. We share stories of what our team does to educate and empower communities to help save coral reefs. We've added a new segment to "Heads Up" that will look a little different. Instead of just telling you about our educational activities, we are going to explore how the stony corals being restored by CRF™ support the biodiversity of Florida's Coral Reef. Each week we will shine the spotlight on some animals that depend on coral reefs for survival. Read on to find out more about this week's featured creatures.

When asked about their favorite marine creature, young students usually shout out sharks, rays, and sea turtles. But one species that seems to steal the show, especially with students in South Florida, is the Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum). Nurse sharks play an essential role in maintaining the balance of the Florida reef tract and other reefs in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Unlike most sharks, Nurse sharks give birth to live young and can grow up to 10 feet long. They have a distinctive round head with sensory barbels near their nostrils and mouth.

A CRF™ diver secures new elkhorn coral outplants to the reef restoration site as a nurse shark watches. ©Alexander Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™

Another fascinating creature in the same family as sharks is rays, and one species that frequents the nurseries is the Spotted Eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari). Spotted Eagle rays are known to glide through the water, and their venomous spines on their tail can make them leap out of the water when confronted by predators. They prey primarily on invertebrates that are associated with a healthy coral reef system and seek cleaning from parasite-eating fish like wrasses.

A fever of eagle rays swims through a CRF™ Coral Tree™ nursery. ©Brynne Rardin/Coral Restoration Foundation™

The Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is another charismatic species that can be found in the tropic and subtropic waters of all the world's major oceans, including Florida reefs and CRF™ nurseries. These omnivorous turtles use their beak-shaped mouths to dig into crevices and cracks in coral reefs for food. They eat a wide variety of plants and animals found in healthy coral reefs, such as sea grasses and algae. Unfortunately they are listed as endangered and their existence is threatened even further by the loss of their reef homes.

A green sea turtle hovers over the CRF™ Coral Rescue nursery. ©Brynne Rardin/Coral Restoration Foundation™

It's important to educate young students and the public about the interconnected nature of these creatures and how they all depend on a healthy coral reef. By inspiring future generations to appreciate and protect these magnificent creatures, we can help ensure their survival and the survival of coral reefs for generations to come.



Coral Restoration Foundation™ is an active member of the Florida Keys Community and we are always excited to join in for local outreach! You can keep up to date with all of the public outreach events we will be attending in upcoming months by subscribing to our Coral Chronicles email newsletter and checking our website calendar:

If you are hosting an event that you think CRF™ could make a difference at please let us know! We offer educational activities for all ages including an unforgettable virtual reality SCUBA dive through our Coral Tree™ Nursery! If you'd like CRF™ to be at your event please reach out to our Communications and Outreach Coordinator Madalen via email


Heads Up Editorial Intern

Julia is from California and went to Oregon State University where she majored in Zoology. She has had an interest in coral conservation ever since she got her Open Water certification in Indonesia. She also enjoys long walks in the intertidal, identifying marine invertebrates. She wants to educate others about coral and conservation efforts.

Sources for the Coral Community Corner article can be found below:

Coral Chronicles Editor

Madalen Howard is CRF's Communications and Outreach Coordinator. She 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, marketing and digital communications.

With CRF™ Madalen creates inclusive pathways to scientific discovery through content creation and by building and fostering relationships with press, digital media creators, and local community members. Throughout her life Madalen has had a skill connecting people with nature, and is excited to bring people into the world of coral restoration.

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