Earth Day Coral Restoration Dive

In January of 2011 I adopted some coral as a way to support the Coral Restoration Foundation. When I heard they were having a coral restoration dive on Earth Day (April 22) I quickly signed up. The event was made possible by a partnership between Ecokeys, Rainbow Reef and the Coral Restoration Foundation.

We started out the day at the Rainbow Reef Dive Shop with presentation by Kevin from the Coral Restoration Foundation. I learned more detail about their nursery operation and growing techniques.I also learned about the plight of the long-spined sea urchin and impact their near extinction had on the reef. A mass die-off in 1983 wiped out nearly all long-spined sea urchins in the Caribbean and Florida Keys.

They are experimenting with several different types of growing methods. They have both a “cap and pipe” system and line system.

The PVC pipes and pipe caps can be gently twisted off for manual cleaning with a wire or plastic brush.

They have discovered the line allows the coral clippings and nubs to grow the fastest. After watching Ken work the line I realized it took more diving skill to work on a line system.

Staghorn Coral Line

Coral Line close-up

I was impressed with the number of fish that had taken up residence in the coral nursery. There was one Triggerfish that got a little aggressive while we were cleaning the coral.


I was happy to see the Coral Restoration Foundation experimenting with growing Brain and Star Coral. It takes a lot longer to grow but its good to know it can be done.

Brain and Star Coral growing experient in the coral nursery

The next dive was at the Wellwood Restoration Site on Molasses Reef. I had been there on Wednesday where I had seen the Black Tip Reef shark.

Planting a staghorn coral clipping at the Wellwood Restoration Site

I was amazed how the juvenile Bluehead Wrasse (the small yellow fish) swarmed around the newly planted coral.

Re-planted Staghorn coral clipping

This trip we were just quickly re-planting clippings from other corals in the area. Normally they are placing coral with bases from the nursery onto the reef floor. I noticed several while diving at other sites on Molasses Reef.

New Staghorn Coral transplant from the nursery.

They recently started moving the ID tags off to one side since coral several years old have “bushed” out to cover the base tag.

Replanted Staghorn Coral several years old on the Wellwood Restoration Site.

Before my next volunteer opportunity I would like to work on some different clip systems to attach tools to my BC so that I am more efficient.