Written by Casey Harris (MSc) & Natalia Hurtado (MSc)
Students at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) are diving head first into coral restoration!
The Perry Institute works closely with CEI on ‘The Bahamas Coral Innovation Hub Project (BCIH),’ an initiative that aims to help reverse the decline of Bahamian reefs, with a focus on South Eleuthera. Island School and Deep Creek Middle School students gained valuable hands-on coral restoration experience in an underwater classroom, working with PIMS researchers Natalia Hurtado and Casey Harris on various projects. Combining research and education is a core objective at PIMS, which is why we developed a PADI Reef Rescue Diver Specialty with our Reef Rescue Network, which has over 30 coral nurseries around The Bahamas.
Island School Spring 2021
At the Island School last Spring, 55 high school students had a transformative educational semester, as part of their Marine Ecology class! They all had an opportunity to dive and clean our Tunnel Rock coral nursery off South Eleuthera. Students learned about corals, the function of coral nurseries and the importance of keeping them clean. Working underwater can be a difficult task, but these young divers were up for the challenge!
In addition to the Marine Ecology class, the BCIH team conducted a research project with seven Island School students who are now certified as Reef Rescue Divers. In their research class, they investigated tissue healing and growth of different staghorn genotypes to obtain baseline information on corals in the nursery. Long-term, this information will help increase staghorn populations and preserve important habitat for marine organisms, eventually boosting reproductive success on degraded reefs in South Eleuthera.
Deep Creek Middle School Grade 9
With the support of The Nature Conservancy Caribbean, Deep Creek Middle School, a local school in South Eleuthera, involved their grade 9 students in coral restoration. First things first, the 10 middle school students learned how to SCUBA dive by successfully completing their PADI Open Water Course. Once certified, the class embarked on a new underwater adventure—the Reef Rescue Diver Course! In their course, students learned all about coral reefs, threats impacting reefs, benefits of coral nurseries and how to maintain them. Overall, these students had a unique opportunity to learn outside the walls of the classroom, which gave them a better understanding and connection with their local environment.
New Volunteers Join Our Network
Last semester, Reef Rescue Dive Instructor, Natalia Hurtado, certified a total of 17 students! They can now volunteer and visit other nurseries sites within the Reef Rescue Network by visiting the Reef Rescue Diver Interactive Map, which showcases our partners and their nursery locations. The network currently has 27 nursery sites in The Bahamas (Abaco, Andros, Berry Islands, Bimini, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Great Exuma, Harbour Island, Nassau, San Salvador) as well as Aruba, St. Lucia. Check it out and get involved!
The BCIH team always welcomes Reef Rescue Divers (following COVID-19 protocols) to help maintain the largest nursery within our network and in The Bahamas!
Don’t miss a beat! Enter your email below to catch our latest research missions, stories and job opportunities.