Not long after I got certified to scuba dive, I learned about the Coral Restoration Foundation. CRF is a really exciting and amazing organization dedicated to “actively restoring coral reefs on a massive scale, educating others on the importance of our oceans, and using science to further coral research and coral reef monitoring techniques.”
While I don’t quite meet their requirements to be a regular volunteer for them…yet (I am still 5 dives away from their minimum of 30 dives and I don’t live in South Florida), I love getting their newsletters and I follow and support their work in any way I can.
Update: as of 12/05/21, I have 40 dives- yeay! … Now I just need to move a little further south….
Recently I noticed they have some short-term dive programs I could do on a trip to the Keys – very exciting! The dive programs welcome divers and snorkelers and almost any level of ability. The programs are run in partnership with dive operators in the Keys and include some classroom training, Then you get to do some hands-on training and, depending on what needs to be done on a given day and on the comfort and ability of the individuals involved, maybe even help out with coral nurseries, outplantings, or coral monitoring! I seriously cannot wait to get down there to finally help out with some coral restoration work!
I’m also very excited about their citizen science program through their ios app OKCoral (android version coming soon!). There is a training session built into the app as a game (fun!) and then you can use the app to help monitor the coral out plantings where restoration work is happening. I just finished the training in the app and I can assure you it’s fun and not at all hard. …if you get stuck, you can look at the scrolling images with notes to learn more about how to identify living coral, how to tell if it’s fused or not, and whether it’s staghorn or elkhorn coral.
All I need to do now is find one of these location on the map so I can find the coral that’s been planted there and submit a report on the health of the outplanting.
The app guides me through the steps to collect and submit the data they need:
- Your name
- The reef name
- The mooring ball number
- The date
- Whether the corals are dead or alive and fused or not fused
- The corals’ cluster number and genotype ID
The app allows me to submit this data in the form of photos, by adding the info after recording notes on a slate, or even directly into the app if I decide to get an underwater housing for my phone.
I can’t wait to get started!