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A non-profit 501(c)(3) informal education program developed in an effort to introduce young men and women, ages 12-18, to marine science education through underwater exploration.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Learning how to Transplant Coral at Mote Marine Laboratory - Summerland Key

Cole Kolasa
Scubanaut - Senior First Class
AAUS D-100
DAN Diving First Aid Pro Provider

July 16, 2014            

Many people take up jobs that require them to work with their hands, multi-task, and complete certain tasks while working to achieve some goal. Working with MOTE Marine laboratories in their coral nursery fits this description and much more, as you have to contribute your diving skills to complete your assigned task.   As SCUBAnauts, we receive top-notch dive training that gives us the ability to complete our assignments and most importantly to do them safely.   A job “well done” with MOTE is very gratifying due to the fact that you actually know you are contributing to real research and that you are making a difference.
            I have participated in doing coral work with MOTE for three years now, and the experience has been extraordinary.   As a diver you benefit by increasing your skill set as you learn to problem-solve and multitask underwater. You also develop skills with your team that are not only useful below the surface, but above the water too. On our last expedition, I was a team leader with three other SCUBAnauts and we were able to move and secure approximately 100 corals in 20 minutes to their “trees” where they will grow and mature over the next year. We did this several times. Together, all our teams were able to transplant and secure over 600 corals to hard bottom structure during our last expedition. On top of that we fragmented and hung around 2000 corals so they can continue growing and go on to produce more and more coral colonies.  These corals will begin to grow and provide the essential structure to reefs that is so essential for life of many different reef-fish and crustaceans. This was SCUBAnauts first year that we transplanted coral to hard-bottom reefs, and after our success it will be very exciting and interesting to see what MOTE has planned for us this summer. 

July 2014 Coral Nursery and Transplant Dive Missions

7.16.14 Dive Journal Entry

Sofia Alaniz, Scubanaut-Senior First Class
Master Diver
AAUS D-100
DAN Diving First Aid Pro Provider


Today was filled with a ton of fun and a huge load of diving!!! I was expecting a normal day of normal dives… That is not even close to what they were. In the morning all of the Nauts woke up and got ready to help MOTE with more transplanting corals! I remember when we hung these corals last year, but this time we were able to help cut them. This was a great experience for me and the other SCUBAnauts. We were able to see how to cut these and to see that these are actually tough corals. This was such an eye opening experience for all of us. Later in the day we had a talk from Mr. Mark Knowles about the geology of the Florida Keys. Many don’t really think geology is the best subject…. but having a talk from him, was so much fun. We learned that over the years that the Florida Keys were formed from the shifting sand from the original shoals. These sand particles are called oolites and without these, we wouldn’t have the lower portion of the Keys. Just thinking this day was amazing and I did not think that this could get any better, when in fact the day and night got even better. The SCUBAnauts had the opportunity to go on a night dive. We had two thirty minute dives and they were filled with so much fun and beautiful creatures. On the second dive, I saw two massive eagle rays that came right under me. I know that this dive will stick with me for the rest of my diving career. I hope that I will have more dives similar to this one!! This is an amazing trip and I will keep many memories from it!!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Why We Love Ocean Prom: SCUBAnaut Youth Reflect on Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW)

This year at the 2014 Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) the SCUBAnauts had a wonderful experience meeting some amazing men and women in D.C. Although the week went by fast, it will be an experience that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I was presented with the opportunity to be interviewed with a fellow naut (Cole Kolasa) at the banquet that is held during the week. I was honored to be a part of the interview as well as amazed by how I have grown from the organization. This week has helped me get out of my comfort zone and I have loved every moment. CHOW is an experience that I enjoyed from the moment I got on the plane in Tampa headed to DC. 
~Sofia Alaniz, age 17, Tarpon Springs Chapter

Cole Kolasa and Sofia Alaniz being interviewed for Oceans Live at #OceanProm

CHOW 2014 to me has had to be my favorite year in Washington D.C. As I have gotten older, I have begun to take interest in learning about people's stories of how they have done such amazing things in their lives. The picture below of us with Dr. Sylvia Earle represents how CHOW can bring us together with these amazing people. It made me ecstatic that Dr. Sylvia Earle "Her Deepness" remembered who I was. To be able to share this experience with my friends and family at home who are also "ocean-geeks" like me is an unforgetable experience. CHOW to me is not just a trip to Washington D.C., it is an experience to learn more about the oceans, how the scientists are conducting research, and to better my relationships with my fellow SCUBAnauts. Thank you to all the coordinators and leaders for putting such an amazing an event together! 
~Cole Kolasa, age 16, Tarpon Springs Chapter

SCUBAnauts with Dr. Sylvia Earle and NMSF CEO John Patlis at #OceanProm
My favorite part of CHOW was the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation's Ocean Prom and meeting all of the very important people in marine biology. Seeing all of my friends dressed up and talking to everyone was also pretty cool.
~Zac Haeberle, age 13, Tarpon Springs Chapter

SCUBAnauts with Dr. Michael Crosby, MOTE Marine Laboratory President

Thursday, June 12, 2014

CHOW 2014: Our Next Generation of Ocean Leaders Discuss Major Ocean Threats and Solutions with Congressional Leaders and Marine Experts

Capitol Hill Ocean Week has taught me a lot.  I learned about environmental issues and how to approach them, the government and how it works, and my fellow SCUBAnauts. A couple of environmental issues that stuck out to me were ocean acidity, pollution, damage to ocean floors from anchors, and rising sea levels.  Possible solutions included reducing carbon output and developing biodegradable bottles and packaging, enforcing laws to make boats use mooring buoys rather then anchors, and to invest in research and innovation. Furthermore, we were lucky enough to sit in the gallery and watch the House of Representative vote, meet Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-FL14), and Congressman David Jolly (R-FL13).  From these experiences I learned that our politicians are focused on listening to the public and doing their best to create change where need be.  I also learned from a CHOW panel that our Congress has become divided and dysfunctional due to a lack of knowledge of environmental issues. Ultimately, the most fun came from getting to know my peers in this group more closely.  Since I am new to SNI, before this trip, I didn’t even know my peers in my own chapter and after spending a week with them I now know them far too well.  Even with all the crazy, loud, excitement, I am reassured I belong to this group. I am proud to be a member of the SCUBAnauts and thankful for this amazing opportunity.  I hope to attend CHOW next year and look forward to learning more positive news and exciting solutions.
~Najma Tyehimba, age 17, Tampa Chapter

SCUBAnauts share concerns about ocean issues at Senator Mikulski's office
CHOW has been an amazing experience for me and my fellow SCUBAnauts.  I have opened my eyes to many problems facing our planets waters.  A certain problem that I have taken an interest in is ocean acidification, which is the lowering of pH in the water due to increased carbon dioxide (CO2).  In addition to learning about this and other threats, I am happy to have learned about possible solutions and ways we can help.  As well I am very happy to have had the opportunity to spend more time with my fellow SCUBAnauts, and learn both what they are passionate about, and what they plan to do in the future. This trip has opened my eyes to an array of possibilities for the future that I hope to pursue.  The best part of the trip was the great people in the ocean conservation community. Congressmen David Jolly, and biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle were both very inspirational to listen to and I hope I get another chance.
~Gabriel Cohn, age 17, Tampa Chapter

I am very glad I went on this trip. In these few days, I have seen a plethora of unique opportunities that I can take. Through our meetings, I found many ways to help Earth’s oceans and wildlife.
~Michael Murphy, age 16, Tarpon Springs Chapter

SCUBAnauts meet renowned coral biologist, Dr. Nancy Knowlton at CHOW 2014

During CHOW, I got the opportunity to talk to many different people from senators to researchers to huge environmental groups such as NOAA, AGU and many others. For instance, I talked to Dr. Kathryn Sullivan who works for NOAA as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. Dr. Sullivan was very interested in what I had to say. She was even asked me questions about my individual research projects. Along with Dr. Sullivan I had the chance to listen to Dr. Nancy Knowlton and Representative Kathy Castor talk about their jobs and how they help the oceans and what they plan on doing to help the oceans in the future. Congresswomen Kathy Castor was a very positive person who cared about everything you had to say, which for young kids, such as teenagers, that means a lot. It makes you think you can do something to make the world a better place. One of my first meetings was with Ocean Conservancy which a lot of people don't know about. Ocean Conservancy does a lot to help protect the oceans and save them from what the future holds for them as of today. Talking to them about their ocean acidification solutions and the fact that they have a whole group just working on that one topic amazed me. I got to spend a whole day talking to the different groups in NOAA, which was the best part. I learned many different things that I would never had guess NOAA did. Over all being able to talk to all of these people was a great and informative experience and I enjoyed every bit of it!
~Taylor Rejsek, age 16, Tampa Chapter, SNI

SCUBAnauts talk about ocean issues at the Ocean Conservancy