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Dive In: Coral Conservation Community Project

Grand Cayman Eco Divers have had great success over the last year with maintaining their coral nurseries and outplanting viable coral fragments onto Cayman’s reefs.  Brittany Balli and Aaron Hunt, are a husband and wife team, that are dedicated to their Coral Nursery Restoration Program and are devoted to ensuring a positive future for Cayman’s reefs.  Their commitment to coral reef conservation has lead Grand Cayman Eco Divers to work in a united effort with Sunset House and Dive Tech to ensure the success of their programs.  Grand Cayman Eco Divers were inspired by the positive results of their coral nursery program to initiate a study abroad program, inviting both international and local students to learn about their coral nursery program and coral conservation here in the Cayman Islands.  In an effort to expand on education of coral conservation and raise awareness for the coral nursery program Grand Cayman Eco Divers are inviting our local community to get involved and join the volunteer team for their coral nurseries.

Inspiring a Community to become involved in Coral Conservation

 

Grand Cayman Eco Divers, welcomes the community to join them in coral conservation to help ensure that Cayman continues to have healthy and vibrant coral reefs and ecosystems.  Last weekend, Grand Cayman Eco Divers had a successful coral restoration class for local volunteers at Sunset House.  As a result of such a positive turnout, Grand Cayman Eco divers will be hosting another class on coral restoration on Sunday, 1st October 2017, at 9:00am at Dive Tech, located at Lighthouse Point, West Bay. The public can attend a presentation about their coral nursery program and learn about coral conservation here in the Cayman Islands.  Members of the community who would like to volunteer with their coral nursery restoration program will have the opportunity to learn about coral, conservation, and the proper techniques and protocol of maintaining the coral nurseries and handling the coral during outplanting of coral fragments onto reefs. Volunteers with no diving experience are welcome to join and take advantage of dive courses offered by Grand Cayman Eco Divers and become certified divers.  All participating divers/volunteers are asked to purchase a CI$10 token to take part on coral nursery sites to cover operating costs. The funds will then go directly back into the coral nursery restoration program.  Over a series of courses and trips to the coral nurseries, volunteers will build their confidence and experience working with the coral nurseries.  Later, they will transition into joining a core group of volunteers working directly with coral and outplanting them onto Cayman’s reefs.

Caring for our Coral Nurseries 

Over the last year, there has been great success with Grand Cayman Eco Divers coral nurseries restoration program.  A core element of its success is dedicated volunteers who generously give their time to visit the coral nurseries on a weekly basis to clean, monitor and maintain the coral nursery sites located throughout Grand Cayman.  Since the infancy of this project to help restore Cayman’s reefs, much has been learned along the way.  The location of a coral nursery site is important.  Strategic locations are chosen based on having the most ideal environmental factors to increase the chances of optimal success growing coral fragments that will later be out planted onto various reefs.  There is proving to be positive benefits of placing coral nursery sites in deeper water to help offset damage from storms.  The process itself of outplanting the viable coral fragments onto the reef is a very delicate operation.  Special precautions must be taken during the handling and transition of the coral fragments to avoid damaging the coral and ensure the coral will successfully grow on the reef.  All volunteers participating in their coral nursery restoration program undertake courses offered by Grand Cayman Eco Divers to ensure the integrity and success of the program.  The courses teach volunteers the guiding principles and practices used for coral conservation here in the Cayman Islands.

Adopt a Coral and Pledge to help preserve Cayman’s Reefs

Grand Cayman Eco Divers Coral Nursery Restoration Program is committed to restoring Cayman’s reefs and ensuring that our reefs can continue to provide diverse ecosystems.  Reefs are fundamental to our islands as they have both environmental and economic significance.  A coral nursery program is a means to secure a promising and healthy future for our reefs, as the program has thus far been successful.  Coral reefs face a multitude of threats including, climate change, bleaching, and ocean acidification.  A successful coral nursery program allows our reefs to have a fighting chance to have damaged and critical areas restored over time.  In order to continue this flourishing conservation initiative donations to fund the program are imperative.  Weekly visits to the coral nurseries to conduct maintenance, cleaning and monitoring of the “coral trees” is paramount to ensure positive out planting of the coral fragments.  Funds are needed to support the operating, dives and maintenance costs of the entire program.  For the last several years, Grand Cayman Eco Divers have generously financially contributed to their program, and as a result the program was able to keep moving forward thanks to their admirable support and commitment to the restoration of Cayman’s reefs.

“Aaron and Brittany have personally financed most of this program and devoted their own personal savings toward this for the last several years.  Each donation is greatly appreciated and goes directly back into operating the Nursery program.” – Grand Cayman Eco Divers

Now, is the time for a call to action, in order for their coral nursery program to continue moving forward additional funding needs to be secured.  Donations from our community are instrumental to the program’s success and ability to carry on.  Both private citizens and corporations have an opportunity to “adopt a coral” by making a donation to the conservation efforts of their Coral Nursery Program. Click here to donate 

Stay Connected

To learn more about Grand Cayman Eco Divers study abroad program click here 

Local students who would like to get involved in coral conservation click here

Visit Grand Cayman Eco Divers website, click here 

Photo Credits:

Grand Cayman Eco Divers

Charlotte Roslev

Jim Catlin

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