Key Largo Citizen Science Diving Project


We envision conducting citizen-science, donor-participant research expeditions to help protect coral reefs in the Florida Keys.


July 10, 2023


Key Largo, FL

Sustainable Development Goals



This unusual program would involve citizens in hands-on, cutting-edge scientific research. It is the outgrowth of Dr. Porter’s multi-decades career in teaching, research, and policy advice on coral reef conservation in the Florida Keys. Discoveries from his research program have already saved coral in Key West. For this work, Dr. Porter received the 2020 Eminence in Research Award from the International Coral Reef Society. For his contributions to the Netflix Documentary, Chasing Coral, he received a 2017 Peabody Award and the 2018 Emmy Award for Best Nature Documentary. Dr. Porter is now organizing a research expedition with citizen and student SCUBA divers in the Florida Keys in July 2023. The goal of the expedition will be to engage all of the participants in front-line scientific research. The research will be focused on the detection, quantification, and prevention of coral disease in the Florida Keys. Divers will be trained to systematically photograph the reef and take samples for water-quality analyses. Their research stations are all located in shallow water (no station is greater than 30’ and several stations are in less than 6’) and in places where Dr. Porter has worked for more than 40 years. The ease of access and shallowness of many of these patch reef sites means that full science team participation is possible. Expedition members will be fully immersed in all aspects of this coral reef conservation project. There will be several evening lectures which will provide context and detail for the reef investigations. Everyone will participate in the in-water work, sample processing, and computer analyses after return to shore. With their hands-on participation and generous donations, participants are making possible a continuation of this National Science Foundation and National Institute of Health funded research. By their involvement, participants are advancing both coral reef science and coral reef protection for one of the most biodiverse, and yet critically endangered, ecosystems on Earth.

ITINERARY The Florida Keys Seascape

Day 1 – (Sunday-16-July-2023) Arrival at the Reef House Hotel on Key Largo
Buffet dinner at the Reef House Hotel in the French Conference Room at 5:00 PM
Dinner Talk # 1 – Dr. James Porter will set the stage for the coming week

Day 2 – (Monday-17-July-2023) Dive at Horseshoe Reef & Grecian Rocks
Science Dives 1 & 2 (First dive Includes check-out dive & buoyancy control training)
Lunch on boat (Box lunch provided by Reef House Hotel)
Dinner on your own

Day 3 – (Tuesday-18-July-2023) Horseshoe Reef -Surveys and sample collection
Science Dives 3 & 4 (Photogrammetry, Sea urchin surveys, & WQ sampling)
Lunch on boat – Box lunch provided by Reef House Hotel
Buffet dinner at the Reef House Hotel in the Carysfort Conference Room
Dinner Talk # 2 – Dr. Porter will present his Emmy-Winning documentary, Chasing Coral with Audience Q & A

Day 4 – (Wednesday-19-July-2023) Coral Restoration Foundation
Science Dives 4 & 5 (Restoring an Endangered Species)
Morning: Classroom exercise at CRF headquarters, Key Largo on planting coral.
Picknick Lunch on the road to Tavernier
Science Dive 4: Collect Acropora from a CRF “Propagation Tree”
Science Dive 5: Plant Acropora specimens on Restoration Reef
Dinner on your own

Day 5 – (Thursday-20-July-2023) Visit Key West
Behind the scenes tour of Mel Fisher’s Treasure Museum
Visit Key West Aquarium
Visit Hemmingway House
Dinner @ Blue Heaven Restaurant

Day 6 – (Friday-21-July-2023) Horseshoe Reef
Science Dives 6 & 7 (Equipment retrieval and final sampling)
Box lunch provided by Reef House Hotel
Buffet dinner at the Reef House Hotel in the French Conference Room
Dinner Talk # 3 – Dr. Porter “Bombs Away! Removing Underwater Unexploded Ordnance from Coral Reefs in Puerto
Rico and Hawaii

Day 7 – (Friday-22-July-2023) Breakfast/Departure
To permit flying on Saturday, dives on Friday will be in the morning, and will be < 25 feet.


Your donation will help further this critical research and save coral in the Florida Keys.






Jim Porter – Meigs Distinguished Professor at University of Georgia – [email protected] or (706) 207-5177

Jake McGrew – Executive Director of TNT – [email protected] or (802) 356 -2836