Each summer, members of SCUBAnauts International and Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge convene in the Florida Keys to support Mote Marine Lab in their coral restoration nurseries. This year, due to historically warm water temperatures, Mote’s team was hesitant to stress the corals any further by conducting typical fragmenting or outplanting activities in which additional corals are created and replaced to surrounding reefs.

Fortunately for us, the in situ nurseries near both Summerland Key and Key West were in need of expansion. Getting duckbill anchors 3ft into the sand is no easy feat and typically takes Mote’s team several days to complete small numbers. Enter… SCUBAnauts like Braydan K. from the Sarasota Chapter. This was Braydan’s first mission wtih SCUBAnauts. See what he has to say about his time in Mote’s field nurseries.


A Little Hard Work…

Braydan uses a hammer and rebar post to pound a duckbill anchor 3ft into the sand. This will support a coral tree in the future.

My first experience at the Mote nursery was full of great opportunities for me and all the other Nauts. Our job at Mote was to hammer in coral tree anchors underwater at 15ft to 20ft! The anchors are used to hold the coral trees which increase the growth rate of the coral that was placed on to the coral tree. The anchors that we had to hammer into the ground were silver and about 4ft long. It was hard because of being underwater. You have to watch your air use and there were some areas of sand that were hard as rock. If an anchor was easy it took about 3 min and if it was hard about 10 min. It was very hard work, but we stood with it until the end and finished our job.

We SCUBAnauts hammered over 50 anchors into the coral nursery at Mote’s Summerland Key location on the first day of helping Mote. We finished all the work they wanted us to do and it was good and challenging work. Then in Key West we also hammered anchors at Mote’s Sand Key nursery and completed over 100 anchors in a whole new area! That work was done with Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge (CWVC) underwater and they had helped us put in all 100 anchors.


And a Lot of Inspiration

When I was doing it my arms were so very sore and I had to switch with my buddy a lot. Also, my arms were sore for a little bit of the week, but is really worth it! This job is one that takes more willpower than I thought it would take. Doing this type of work helps the ocean a lot and improves our ocean and for the next generation. After we got done hammering anchors at the Summerland nursery I also got to see my cousin, Zack Morris’s memorial plaque. Zack is an important reason and one of the first things that got me into SCUBAnauts and I’m happy that I’m here writing this essay.

Braydan visits a memorial in Mote’s Summerland Key nursery dedicated to his cousin and SCUBAnauts alumni, Zack.

When we got back, lots of the drivers were sore, happy, and proud of what they had done both of those days. Also, many of the senior Nauts, like Conner K., hope to have a job related marine work like what Mote is doing for our ocean so it was really cool they got to help. I was really surprised at how hard the work is that the scientists at Mote do and this amazes me that they have the strength to do it.

We can all say that we must save our ocean to save our world, but we can’t just sit around. We have to get up and actually do something to save the ocean. It would be good if we focused on saving the ocean as much as we do on our phones. Because we need it to survive and live a long happy life.

— Braydan K., Naut-in-Training, Sarasota Chapter