How many SCUBA dives do you have under your belt? I’ve been diving for more than 16 years (now that I’ve turned 30, reference “The Big 3-0” post from 11/14 for thoughts on that) and have somewhere in the range of 250-500 dives. Perhaps I should have done a better job of logging my dives, but in the past several years, I haven’t had reef-based underwater experiences that I could get REALLY excited about. That all changed last week with my whirlwind tour through South Florida for meetings related to my coral conservation project at Georgia Aquarium. I had the opportunity to dive on Coral Restoration Foundation’s (CRF) staghorn coral nursery just off of Tavernier, Florida on Thursday, November 17th.
CRF’s site has an ACRE of coral on the sandy bottom leading up to reefs in just about 30 feet of water. WOW! I spent just over an hour underwater helping to hang a tree with stagorn corals (see photo) which will be out- planted to the reef in ~6 months (pending a permit to CRF for the right to start doing large-scale plantings). While I worked every moment I was underwater up until I hit the minimum air requirement needed for a safe ascent and safety stop, it was the most fun I have had on a dive in years! There is something so satisfying to know that my hour underwater will lead to 50-100 new coral colonies capable of helping to repopulate a reef.
The title for this blog post comes from an innocent question from the daughter of Ken Nedimyer, CRF’s President and founder:
Ken’s Daughter – “Daddy, can I do a happy dive on the nursery?”
Ken – “Yes.”
Brett – “What’s a happy dive?”
Ken – “That’s what we call reef dives when people just float around and look at coral; designed to keep the customers happy.”
I’ve now made it a personal mission to have a positive, direct impact on the environment each and every time I SCUBA dive, investing for happier dives. Over the next two years I am working with Georgia Aquarium and Coral Restoration Foundation to identify long-term ways of making coral restoration financially self-sustainable. Find me on Twitter @BrettWHowell or join Gaia Endeavor’s mailing list to follow the adventure live.