Cayman’s coral nurseries begin to flourish

| 14/06/2016 | 15 Comments
Cayman News Service

Divers tend the coral reef nurseries in Cayman waters

(CNS): A project to grow new coral in local waters in an effort to replenish the increasingly depleted local reefs is doing well, according to experts working on the nurseries. Reefs around the Cayman Islands have been impacted by over-fishing, coastal development and climate change issues, such as bleaching. Marine scientists say it will prove difficult to bring the islands’ reefs back to the health they enjoyed even twenty years ago but there is hope that the nurseries, in combination with other conservation projects, can help slow down the loss and maintain close to what we have.

According to a press release by local dive industry writer Adela White, just a few weeks after the ‘trees’ were installed in the ocean and fragments of coral attached in waters around Grand Cayman they are showing healthy signs of life and attracting fish.

Local diver operators Ocean Frontiers, Sunset House, Divetech, Eco-divers, among others are all gardening coral following approval by the Department of Environment to set up the nurseries, and DoE experts are overseeing the programmes.

“So far everything looks great. There has been zero mortality from the collected coral,” Lois Hatcher, who is managing the nursery for Ocean Frontiers, told the dive magazine. “We are doing weekly maintenance on the site and setting up a report for the Department of Environment. The fragments are being monitored for disease, photographed and measured. They already show visible growth after just a few weeks.”

The coral trees were set up in late April with the help of the Sea of Change Foundation, an ocean conservation non-profit that donated money, expertise and materials to construct the trees, made from plastic tubes. Experts from the Coral Restoration Foundation were brought in to help install the trees and train the dive operators how to manage the nurseries.

“Every year the Foundation picks a project that we believe will make a difference in saving our seas, and this year we picked Cayman’s coral nursery program,” said board member Jerry Beaty. “We’ve seen this method succeed in other places and because Cayman is such a prime dive destination, we want to do what we can to keep it that way.”

Each coral tree, which can hold about 100 coral fragments, is anchored to the sea bottom with rope and can float with the currents, even during storms and hurricanes. The coral fragments feed from the nutrient-rich currents and they grow. Cayman’s nurseries contain fast-growing Staghorn Corals. Nursery tenders clean and maintain the coral trees to find the strongest corals which will then be used to “seed” local reefs.

Read more about the project here

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (15)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes, the dock and cruise ships are definitely the answer. Stewards of the sea!!!
    Here, read this;

    It is scary how much the cruise lines really care. What would we do without them?

    • Anonymous says:

      Notice they all have an F for transparency bar Disney on their report card. That pretty much makes the rest of their scores worthless.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Dredging causes disease and sickness for reefs. So no, you are wrong. Dredging is in no way good for the enviornment. Your statement is false.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There is no mention in this article about the real threat to our coral reefs, which comes from thousands of clumsy scuba divers covered in sunscreen and due to poor training steeping on and breaking coral. You won’t hear about this from all like CNS. their expat friends own all the dive operations which along with the hotels are the only business that benefit from divers who come here on cheap packages and don’t rent cars, go to restaurants because they are on tight budgets. Instead our expat owned media along with the expat community and the DOE continue to blame the local fishermen and continue to take more of our rights away. It would be wise for minister panton to tread cautiously in this election year.

    • Anonymous says:

      Expats are to blame for every liccle ting, boo hoo.
      Okay, let’s close the dive industry and the associated resorts, then close down all the snorkel tours and shut the Sandbar.
      That should finish off the tourism sector quite nicely, well done genius.
      But then that’s why you’re a fisherman and not a successful businessman.

      Expats are the main source of wealth generation on this island, they keep your lame duck economy from failing by earning the CIG revenue. In turn that enables you to enjoy the fruits of the 1st world without actually producing anything that the world wants or needs.
      And as you well know, the biggest water sports providers on this island are owned by Caymanians, tell Adian Briggs he’s not a generational Caymanian and see how that goes for you.

      And whilst we’re at it, it was expats that originally came to this island and became Caymanians.
      You and people like you are just the envious underbelly of an uneducated and bigoted minority who haven’t got the intelligence to do it yourself, but abuse those who can.
      You sad little man.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m so glad to finally see some Dive companies are doing the right thing. They forget most of this coral was dying because of their greed (UNEP says so and gives guidelines). They also could use this opportunity to teach young Caymanians how to grow coral and start a new industry. Why not fill half of the North sound with coral gardens and sell it to other islands. They could create new dive sites. They could start new areas for lobsters, parrot fish and conch.
    We are never going to stop development. We already have protection for the North sound as replishment zones,environmental zones. In fact the golf course at Hyatt with its waterways have lots of fish in its waterways. Peter Milburn can tell anyone because he dives it often. Development doesn’t always destroy sometimes if done right it can be a win-win for the environment.
    There was never a lot of dredging accept if you’re counting that Harbour House was done a couple of times. But that is always going to be needed . In fact if history tells the truth we kept a lot of schooners in the North Sound. The only big dredged area in the North sound was Rum point and “what do you know ” we got a new spectacular site for tourist to come and enjoy Bioluminescent Plankton, who would have figured that “dredging ” would be so good for the environment?
    Empty conch shells create new homes for baby fish and Hermit crabs. They also can create barriers to the sea during storms, if put together. If more money was being offered in salaries to Caymanians they would want to be a Dive Instructor. At the same time they would protect the reefs more. How can anyone with a college degree live on $12 per hour per day and less then 45 hours a week?
    Its time that Dive companies spend some money for the benefit of the island that made them so rich.

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanian dive instructors won’t work for $12 an hour, but you greedy ingrates are quite happy to relieve those guests, (who come here to enjoy world class diving) of their hard earned money.
      Why won’t you work, why do you think you are so damn special?
      Many of the dive instructors are here on gap years or development courses and are mostly highly educated.
      And yes, anyone ‘can’ live on $12 an hour, with or without a degree, you expect many highly educated young people to do so in a whole range of service industries that prop up your economy and keep many Caymanians employed in the process.
      Caymanians have the same opportunities as everyone else to become instructors, the point being why would a degree holding Caymanian want to be a dive instructor in the first place. Surely they would want to own the business or specialise in marine sciences.
      The idea of a gap year or two is to travel and gain experience, perhaps you should try it and see how the rest of the world behaves in the 21 century instead of sitting there getting bitter and twisted of what you haven’t done.

      • Deby Coles says:

        $12 an hour? I wish! My husband works as a diving instructor and boat captain, has 10+ years experience and earns the minimum wage at $6 an hour. This was increased from $5.50 an hour when the minimum wage came in. His employer is desperate to employ more Caymanians, even offering to pay for their training and certification as instructors (which cost my husband $12,000), but the last one they tried simply stopped turning up to work after 4 days. No call, nothing. Just didn’t come in any more.
        I also disagree that divers are the main cause of damage to the reefs. I have dived all around the island, in areas where divers never go and the reefs there are often in far worse condition, covered in the litter of fishermen, damaged by their cinder block anchors and tangled with discarded ropes and lines, and over-run with lionfish. The instructors and dive companies work hard to protect and maintain the dive sites – their living depends on it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cayman alone can do very little in regard to worldwide coral bleaching, but it can help marine conservation locally by stopping over development, destruction of reef and mangrove and clear up its crap at the dump.
    In addition it could form and adequately fund an effective Conservation enforcement team to catch and prosecute those who are destroying our marine life and environment for profit or to feed their drink and drug habit. Currently, It seems to the casual observer that too few staff, a shortage of vital equipment, (especially boats) is fuelling the rise in professional poaching and casual theft.
    There are hundreds, if not thousands of empty conch shells throughout the North Sound and it’s marine parks. They didn’t crack themselves or find their way onto roadside stalls without help from someone, yet no one challenges this disgusting trade or seeks to limit possession on island. The same applies to lobster, why aren’t businesses challenged on possession out of season?

    We also need to implement the NCL in its entirety with immediate effect, no more delays due to the self interest of some MLA’s and their ‘supporters’.

    The science is fantastic and those who seek to save our seas are heroes, but we need to do more.

  6. Rebellious Bot says:

    We can soon put a stop to that.

  7. Kadafe says:

    Well done to all involved and thank you!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Coastal developmemt mainly and climate change. Dredging is way worst than fishing. Climate change is global warming and coastal development is the real tragedy to the coral. Bleaching from climate change is bad enough without dredging the poor thing. Plant more trees. Be more selective with fishing. Let the coral be. Protect the environment we live in so we all can have a piece of it.

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