While Labor Day meant a much-deserved day of relaxation for most, a few of us Drs. Foster and Smith “aquatics folk” spent Labor Day having an amazing adventure fragging corals in the Florida Keys.
Our adventure wouldn’t have been possible without Drs. Foster and Smith’s exciting new partnership with the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) for the “Get or Give Challenge.” We’ve partnered with CRF and a host of aquatics industry leaders to help CRF in their mission to develop off-shore coral nurseries and reef restoration programs for critically endangered coral reefs at local, national, and international levels. To date, we’ve raised more than $19,515 with the support of our vendor partners and customers. Learn more about the challenge here.
The Drs. Foster and Smith Aquatics Merchandising Team – already in Florida attending the Marine Aquarium Conference of North America (MACNA) – couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see firsthand how the CRF was helping coral grow and thrive. Ike Eigenbrode from Current/Ecoxotic had invited us to come aboard the “Big Dipper” boat to visit the nursery and outplanting done by the CRF. We were also going to help with the actual coral fragging! But first, we needed to learn how. Thankfully, during MACNA, Ken Nedimyer, Denise Nedimyer, Jessica Levy, and Kayla Ripple from CRF took the time to teach us how to properly frag and prepare the coral for hanging in the nursery and outplanting at the reef.
Time to dive (and snorkel)!
We enjoyed a short boat ride to the 12-year-old Tavernier Staghorn Nursery (a coral tree nursery) and outplanting area on the Snapper Ledge, during which Captain Carson and First Mate Stephanie took great care of us! The Drs. Foster and Smith Merchandising Team, along with Tara Robertson, our sales representative from Current, were not dive certified and therefore unable to SCUBA dive to the reef. However, we were able to snorkel over the nursery and the reef, watching the divers at work. We also enjoyed viewing live rock. What a stunning sight! While the weather was perfect and the waves small, we did face the challenge of dodging Moon jellyfish, which were frighteningly abundant in the water! Terri suffered a sting, but took it like a trooper.Back on the boat, we waited excitedly for CRF President Ken Nedimyer to swim Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) up from the reef. Using what we learned from the CRF team at MACNA, we (with Denise’s assistance) successfully fragged the coral and prepared it for hanging in the nursery. We then returned to the water to snorkel over the reef while the divers performed the coral outplanting. Thankfully, we did not face quite as many Moon jellyfish and were able to spend more time swimming and enjoying the amazing marine aquascape. The reef and marine animals seemed to invite us in to stay awhile.
So very lucky and grateful to participate
While we were familiar with the majesty and intrigue of corals, the “Labor Day Dive” truly brought home just how fascinating and fragile corals are in their native habitat. We are SO thankful to now we have a complete understanding of exactly how the CRF is helping to preserve and propagate corals. We’ve also experienced CRF’s goals – educate, action, results – firsthand, and we are proud to say we helped them achieve these goals. We hope that we can help continue to bring awareness to the wonderful cause of coral restoration and help raise funds for its successful continuation.
Thanks to all involved!
We are extremely grateful to CRF President Ken Nedimyer and his wife, Denise Nedimyer, for being such gracious hosts.
BIG thanks go to the entire Coral Restoration Foundation and our CRF partners – Boyd Enterprises, CaribSea, Cobalt Aquatics, CoraLife, Current, Dr. Tim’s Aquatics, Ecoxotic, Eshopps, Hydor, Instant Ocean, Marineland, Piscine Energetics and Seachem.
Thanks to the Big Dipper crew, as well as its sponsors: Ike Eigenbrode from Current and Ecoxotic, Kevin Gaines from Piscine Energetics, Julian Sprung from Two Little Fishies, Jeff Turner from Boyd Enterprises.