Written by: Hayley-Jo Carr
On Saturday 16th March 2019 at The Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, The Bahamas, 180 coral fragments were relocated to a nearby coral reef. The Atlantis Resort Coral Nursery is located in the large Lagoon and guests can view the nursery from the bridge or even jump in and snorkel to take a look. Growing on a line nursery is Finger coral, Porites porites, and it has been growing so well it was time for a much needed outplant. The Perry Institute for Marine Science Reef Rescue Network Training Director and Coordinator, Hayley-Jo Carr, organized the event with help from 3 PADI Reef Rescue Diver Instructors; Mellisa Altenburger, Karen Richford and Allison Longley. Atlantis staff Dave Wert & Boat Captain Todd Kemp also helped with the logistics and made sure everything went smoothly.
Hayley-Jo Carr, the Perry Institute for Marine Science Reef Rescue Network Training Director and Coordinator, pruning the corals grown in the Atlantis Nursery (Mellisa Altenburger)
IT’S OUTPLANTING TIME!
The first task was to jump in the lagoon nursery and cut fragments off the corals, a piece is left to grow and after each of these pruning’s the coral will grow faster. All the fragments were gathered in a basket and transferred to a live well on the boat which kept them nice and cool with fresh seawater on their trip out to the reef. The site chosen was Cannonball Reef which is a popular snorkel and scuba site on the north side of the beautiful Rose Island, just a short trip by boat from Paradise Island. The site is stunning with many species of coral and fish and Porites porites occurs naturally here, making it a great location to plant more. The weather was perfect with flat calm seas and all 4 divers were eager to get in the water. The substrate was cleaned of algae and then fragments were fixed with a two-part marine epoxy. This epoxy will dry within the hour and hold the corals in place so they can then take their time to grow and fix themselves even firmer to the substrate and develop into a colony. All together 180 fragments were planted back onto the reef.
Karen Richford transporting fragments underwater at Cannonball Reef (Mellisa Altenburger)
Fish were already checking out the new corals being planted by Karen Richford (Mellisa Altenburger)
Cannonball Reef is stunningly beautiful with plenty of coral and fish species (Mellisa Altenburger)
By increasing population numbers and the numbers of distinct parent genotypes through propagation and outplanting of nursery grown fragments, sexual reproduction and recruitment are expected to have higher success rates ultimately aiding in the natural recovery of the species and the health of Bahamian Coral reefs.
It is vital that we start to protect out coral reefs before it is too late. Coral reefs have many benefits especially here in The Bahamas.
We will be monitoring these corals over the coming years to track survival and growth and we have a temperature logger at the site so we can follow the fluctuations throughout the year.
For now, the corals that were trimmed in the nursery will continue to grow for the next 12 months before outplanting can start again. All that is needed is to keep the nursery clean from Algae every month which is carried out by the awesome staff at The Atlantis Resort. We are even hoping in the next couple of months to increase the number of corals being grown in this nursery so we can have even more of a positive impact on the local reefs.
Thanks to the Atlantis Resort & Staff, The Perry Institute for Marine Science and volunteer divers who made this event possible. This nursery is a part of the Atlantis Blue Project Foundation, committed to supporting marine conservation.