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.

Triggerfish

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.

A Turtle and Black Tip Reef Shark on Molasses Reef

Wednesday was a fantastic day diving with Rainbow Reef on Molasses Reef. We were lucky enough to have master dive guide Jesus (AKA the fish whisperer) with us for the day. We had so many sighting I barely know where to begin.

Jesus found an small overhang with a Lionfish, Nurse Shark and Stingray underneath. When he captured the Lionfish the Shark took off in one direction and stingray in the other.

Later on during the dive we had a visit from a friendly old turtle. It was not afraid of us at all and swam with us for a while.

During the afternoon dive we visited the Wellwood Coral Restoration site on Molasses Reef. During the dive we saw a few Spotted Eagle Rays and a Black Tip Reef Shark. In addition to the photo I was able to get a few seconds of video.

Coral Restoration Foundation Adopt-A-Coral Program

Thanks to a Facebook post by the good people at Rainbow Reef Dive Center, I learned about the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF). I was happy to learn that Rainbow Reef has taken an active partnership role with the Coral Reef Foundation. I like the concept of coral restoration because it is direct action to address the degrading coral reefs in the Florida Keys.

Below are photographs of the coral colony I have sponsored. Visit the CRF Website to adopt your own coral.

I hope to make another trip to Key Largo and participate in one Foundation’s Community Based Programs to learn more about the program and visit the nursery.

Step it Up 2007 at Dartmouth

Bernie Sanders at Step It Up 2007

The Upper Valley joined the national Step It Up movement scheduled to take place nationwide on April 14, 2007. There were events that ranged from skiing in Wyoming to diving on a coral reef in Florida.
A little after one o’clock a group of walkers along with Senator Bernie Sanders crossed the Ledyard Bridge and walked up the hill to the Dartmouth Green. Several groups has set up display tables including VINS, the Sierra Club, Upper Valley Localvores and Advanced Transit. Senator Sanders was the first of several inspiring speakers for the event. The vegetable oil powered Big Green Bus was there along with another car that was also powered by vegetable oil and diesel.

Green Bags from the Co-op

Co-op Green Bag

I happen to see some some re-useable shopping bags for sale at the Co-op in Lebanon. I remembered Valerie’s Friday Five about recycling and knew I should buy some. I am guilty of throwing away many shopping bags, both paper and plastic, over my life. I thought it would be a good opportunity to do more reducing and reusing. There was an info sheet with the bags that has some interesting facts.

  • Plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to degrade and leave permenant toxins in the soil and water.
  • Paper bags create 70% more air and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags.
  • Plastic bags kill millions of sea creatures a year.
  • The US uses 14 million trees and 12 million barrels of oil per year in the manufacture of shopping bags.
  • The US uses approximately 100 billion plastic and 10 billion paper bags each year.
  • Less than 5% of bags are recycled nationally.

This seems to be an easy way to reduce my environemntal impact. I discovered they hold more than plastic bags. The Co-op also give you five cents off your bill per bag.

Whales at Stellwagen Bank

These are my two best photos from a whale watch trip to Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary.
The sanctuary is only about 30 miles east of Boston, which makes this a day trip from the Upper Valley. The boat trip lasted about 3 and half hours and leaves from the New England Aquarium.
The bottom structure and upwelling makes Stellwagen Bank rich in phytoplankton, zooplankton and other marine life that whales feed on. They are returning from calving in the Caribbean, where there is little feed for them. So by the time they migrate to the food rich waters of New England they are ravenous.
Visit www.markkarl.com to see all of the photos from the trip. Click on the photos for a larger image.
Anyone else been to the Aquarium or on a whale watching trip?



This is my best fluke shot. The whale was only a few yards from the boat.


There are three whales feeding in this shot.