Written by: Hayley-Jo Carr, Training Coordinator, Reef Rescue Network

The World’s first Coral Nursery has been established in a blue hole on Andros in The Bahamas with The Andros Beach Club, partners of The Perry Institute for Marine Science Reef Rescue Network. Andros has over 200 blue holes and this nursery has been built in the Donut Blue Hole off the South of Andros. Andros has the world’s largest collection of blue holes with 178 on land and at least 50 in the sea. Blue holes can best be described as entrances to the intricate cave systems that run underneath the island and sea floor. Their openings can be found among the shallow creeks, inland lakes, and the shallow banks of the Bahamas. The caves, which have developed within the Bahamian carbonate platforms, can be laterally and vertically very extensive.

The Donut Blue Hole is surrounded, like most ocean blue holes, with beautiful coral reef thriving from the cooling water currents and nutrients carried through the blue hole cave system. The edge of this blue hole starts around 5ft and then has a sloping bottom down to about 60ft in the deepest corner – from this corner starts the narrow cave entrance to how deep, no one knows!  The coral nursery trees are around 40ft deep inside the blue hole. The location is perfectly protecting this nursery from storms and the cooling blue hole currents will keep these corals happy throughout the summer months. It truly is a perfect spot to grow corals!

Above: The World’s First Blue Hole Coral Nursery.

In April 2019 Reef Rescue Network Coordinator Hayley-Jo Carr joined Jesse Leopold (Owner of Andros Beach Club) and volunteers Adam Wier, Wes MacDonald, Renardo Neely, Benson Brown, Rich Carr and Katy Foley to build, install and populate the coral nursery. Five nurseries have been anchored in the blue hole growing a total of 250 fragments of endangered Acropora cervicornis – Staghorn Coral. The nursery will be maintained monthly to keep the structures clean from algae and then every 12 months they will be trimmed and outplanted back onto the local reefs to help recover this important reef species.

Above :Jesse Leopold attaching a nursery to its anchor.
Above: Renardo Neely, Andros Diving Divemaster assisting with the set up.
Above: Katy Foley volunteered her time while staying at Andros Beach Club on vacation.

The Andros Beach club now has two coral nurseries you can visit when you stay with them. This new one in the Blue Hole and another at ABC Reef which was expanded during this trip to also have 5 trees growing 250 fragments. So, in total Andros Beach club is currently growing 500 coral fragments! The ABC Coral Nursery is growing 150 fragments of Acropora prolifera – Fused Staghorn and 100 fragments of Acropora cervicornis – Staghorn Coral.

Check out the video below on the creation of the nursery!

With incredible diving on reefs, wrecks, walls and in blue holes the Andros Beach Club offers divers an experience you won’t forget. During your stay you can now visit both of their coral nurseries and visit the World’s first Blue Hole Coral Nursery!

Visit http://androsbeachclub.com to book your trip.

Huge thanks to Jesse Leopold and all the awesome staff at Andros Beach Club plus all the volunteers who assisted with creating this unique coral nursery. We welcome it to The Perry Institute for Marine Science Reef Rescue Network.

Above: The coral nursery descending in to the blue hole.
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