Written by: Hayley-Jo Carr

April 2019 welcomes the grand opening of The Perry Institute for Marine Science Coral Nursery at ‘Aurora’ on the eastern side of New Providence in The Bahamas. This nursery will join our Reef Rescue Network and was set up by our Coordinator Hayley-Jo Carr.

The Coral Nursery is a shore dive which makes it easily accessible for both divers and snorkelers and is just a 5-minute swim from shore. The area chosen is hard substrate seabed so the first thing to do was drill into the substrate and fix in eye bolts for the trees to be anchored to, this was done by Reef Rescue Instructor Trainer Rich Carr. Rich was joined by his buddy Mr.Remora, a pesky suckerfish that kept attaching itself to Rich while he was putting in the anchors, much to the amusement of Hayley-Jo! The eye bolts were fixed with a special epoxy and were left to set overnight to become hard and solid enough to hold the nursery structures. The next day Hayley-Jo was assisted by Mellisa Altenburger (Reef Rescue Instructor) and Rachel Miller (Reef Rescue Diver) who tied 5 Coral Nursery Tree structures to the anchors. After this each tree was populated with 50 Staghorn fragments (Acropora cervicornis) with each tree holding a distinct genetic type. The fragments were gathered from source colonies from the nearby Rose Island area. The nursery site is next to a shallow reef and we observed many Parrotfish, Angel fish, Butterfly Fish and Grunts, even a large Southern Sting Ray swam by to see what was happening.

Above: Hayley-Jo Carr, populating the PIMS ‘Aurora’ coral nursery.

This nursery is in a shallow warm area of The Bahamas so will be an important nursery for our research on temperature related studies with corals. With sea temperatures rising it is important for us to learn about which corals are more resilient and how some are managing this process. Rising ocean temperatures resulting from climate change are killing coral reefs across the planet with over 70 percent having been exposed to high temperatures that cause bleaching and can kill corals. It is so important within our coral restoration efforts to understand this process further and what steps we can take to make corals more resilient. 

Above: A bare coral tree being installed by Hayley-Jo Carr and Rachel Miller.
Above: A special visit by a Southern stingray!
Above: Hayley Jo and Rachel Miller populating the coral tree with Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis).

 Our PADI Reef Rescue Diver Specialty Course is now available to be taught at our Aurora Coral Nursery so if you would like to become certified and join our network of volunteers please email hayley.carr@perryinstitute.org for details. The course takes just one day with theory in the morning followed by two dives at the nursery in the afternoon. Minimum 12 years old and must be a certified Open Water Diver to participate.

Huge thanks to our Reef Rescue Network volunteers Mellisa Altenburger, Rachel Miller and Rich Carr.

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