Nauts used a diamond saw to cut small corals into even smaller fragments which will eventually be outplanted to local reefs.

SCUBAnauts International has partnered with Mote Marine Labs to support their coral restoration efforts since 2013. As the need to increase scale and scope of restoration activities has grown, SCUBAnauts have strived to keep pace and support a wider variety of activities as well. This summer, Nauts visited Mote’s newest facility in Key Largo for the first time, and helped with the full restoration process from creating new coral fragments and the concrete plugs they grow on in the land nursery all the way through building underwater coral trees, hanging and maintaining corals in the field. See what 2nd Class Naut Anya has to say about her time in the land nursery!


All In a Day’s Work


On June 12, 2023, SCUBAnauts visited MOTES Key Largo land nursery and helped the employees prepare things for the next day in the water. MOTE has a lot of precautions and steps that they take to make the nursery perfect. They have a Looe Key nursery, and Sand Key. They have facilities in Summerland Keys and Sarasota.

Second Class Naut Graham prepares for the next day’s dives by practicing tying a “lobster knot,” which is used to secure coral trees to the sand bottom in field nurseries.

Sarah is the head of the Upper Keys Mote nurseries with help from Marty, Sam, and Lucas. They all showed us how to put branches on coral trees, make lobster knots to hold the trees in place, cut coral off big pieces and gluing them on plugs, and we learned how to make concrete plugs. A main part of their job is taking care of the coral. Cleaning the raceways is very critical because the snails that live in the tank clean the algae off the coral. If you don’t clean the snail poop, the coral won’t live a healthy happy life. Every activity listed was to show us how to do it so underwater tomorrow we aren’t confused.

It was honestly a great experience to see the process on how MOTE outplants coral onto the reef. It certainly is a long process but is worth every second of it. Using all the tools really showed how much of a great experience working with MOTE is. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something like this. It definitely was a messy process from cleaning snail poop to working with concrete. After all this land work, the nauts are definitely prepared for tomorrow in the water!


— Anya A., 2nd Class Naut, Orlando Chapter