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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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August 2010    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 36, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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How Divers Can Help the Florida Keys

from the August, 2010 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A few readers have asked us, “What can we do to help in the Gulf of Mexico?” While your passion to help may be strong, it’s not like you can don a wetsuit and dive into the oil slick to save the marine life. Before volunteering for cleanup efforts, you need to learn how to protect yourself from the oil first by taking a hazmat course.

But recreational divers can become “citizen scientists” for a few days and help replant broken coral and grow new ones near Key Largo. Amoray Dive Resort is hosting dives that let you help marine scientists with coral restoration on August 11-13, October 19-22 and November 1-3.

Ken Nedimyer, president of the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF), will lead the education lectures and the dives. Class sessions precede dive trips and focus on corals’ health, their function in marine ecosystems, natural and manmade threats, and the means to protect them in the Florida Keys. Then after a trip to CRF’s nursery in Key Largo to clean and prepare elkhorn and staghorn corals, divers make the working dives to plant them.

At the nursery, corals are started from a clipping about the length of a knuckle, and grow to 30 or 40 centimeters. After a year on the reef, corals grow several inches tall with multiple branches, and in five years they are strong, independent structures that can play host to fish. In August 2009, the first cultured corals were discovered spawning after only two years -- the first time that had been observed in the wild. An extra benefit of the coral restoration dives is they’re timed to correspond with the annual coral spawn.

“The goal is to get them to reproduce successfully so the corals that have spawned here can settle 10 miles or 50 miles from here,” Nedimyer said. “What we’re trying to do is put the girls and the boys back together in the same room so that they’ll make babies.”

Contact Amoray Dive Resort about the dive program and discounted stay-and-dive packages at 800-426-6729.

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