For World Oceans Day, June 8th, 2017, Perry Institute for Marine Science, Atlantis Blue Project, Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas, The Bahamas Department of Marine Resources and Disney Conservation Fund planted branched finger coral (Porites furcata) and Elkhorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) onto coral reefs that were devastated by hurricane Matthew in The Bahamas.
To kick off this day of dedicated diving, branched finger coral clippings were collected from bigger clumps growing in Atlantis’ lagoon since 2015 and carefully transported to Stuart Cove’s. Transporting these corals was no easy task. Corals are sensitive creatures and need their underwater conditions to be oxygenated and at a constant temperature. Additionally, when corals are stressed, they secrete mucus to both protect themselves from foreign bacteria and predators. If too much of this mucus sloughs off, there isn’t enough clean, clear water for the corals to continue respiring. Therefore, the operation was fast paced and precise.
With an amazing crew of aquarists, seasoned divers and scientists, over 100 coral pieces were transported from the Atlantis property and securely epoxied to several different affected coral reefs.
Additionally, we executed a trimming and outplanting blitz with the Elkhorn corals (Acropora cervicornis) grown in the south-eastern New Providence coral nursery. Established in 2012, the corals in this nursery have grown 4 times their initial size and were ready to be trimmed. This trimming process was like an underwater game of Tetris; a balancing act of trying to get the large, branching pieces to fit in our collection baskets without breaking them. Once the baskets were full of trimmed pieces, the crew droned over to a nearby coral reef and carefully wedged the pieces into cracks and crevices that were clear of algae and competing sponges and epoxied them in place. Each diver that surfaced felt confident in their efforts and looked forward to monitoring the outplanted corals in the near future.
Thank you to all the organizations who assisted in this effort from proposal to successful fruition. Coral nurseries and outplanting events actively help to restore our coral reefs and ensure they are on the road to recovery.