Written by: Hayley-Jo Carr, Reef Rescue Network Training Director & Coordinator
April 2019, Atlantis Resort Dolphin Cay staff joined the Perry Institute of Marine Science (PIMS) to outplant 46 Coral Fragments onto the reef at Green Cay near Paradise Island, The Bahamas. Linda Hammerton (Director of Marine Mammal Operations), Marvin Johnson (Dive Manager) and Dana Culmer (Marine Mammal Specialist III) assisted PIMS Reef Rescue Network Coordinator Hayley-Jo Carr and Atlantis staff Todd Kemp (Sr.Collector & Captain) for the day.
For the last couple of years Dolphin Cay & PIMS had an experimental coral nursery at the Atlantis resort growing 38 Finger Corals (Porites porites) and 8 Staghorn Corals (Acropora cervicornis). The corals had grown large enough ready to outplant so the staff removed all the corals from the line nursery and put onboard a boat and headed out to Green Cay, where both of these corals can be found growing naturally in the wild. The day was very windy but after a bumpy journey Linda, Marvin and Hayley jumped in and descended with baskets of coral to transplant back onto the reef. The team used a two-part marine epoxy which was mixed just before entering the water and gives about 45 minutes of working time before it hardens. An area of dead reef or rock are located, scrubbed clean of algae and then a coral fragment is stuck in place using this epoxy mix. After an hour and over the next 24 hours it will become solid allowing the coral to grow and after just a few months the coral will completely grow over the epoxy naturally attaching itself to the reef and continue to flourish. The team outplanted 38 Porites porites and 8 Acropora cervicornis fragments, tagging some individuals to track growth. The site will be visited every few months to track their progress and survival.
Outplanting corals back onto a coral reef can help to bolster existing colonies and regenerate our reefs that have been stressed by both human and natural impacts such as hurricanes and pollution. Although this nursery has been discontinued, we are currently designing a new coral nursery which will be established at Dolphin Cay and we look forward to sharing these new developments with you later in the year.
Thanks to the Atlantis Blue Project, Dolphin Cay, Atlantis Resort & The Perry Institute for Marine Science for supporting these coral restoration efforts.