Coral Reef Restoration !
On Friday 2nd February 2018 we met with Allen Cedras, the base manager of Curieuse Island of the (SNPA) Seychelles National Park Authority and Gilberte Gendron to discuss the reintroduction of a coral reef project that Octopus Diver was once involved in 3-4 years ago.
The project has the following main aim:
To restore areas of degraded/damaged reef around the small island of St Pierre off of Praslin Island.
We have permission from the SNPA to construct roped coral nurseries on the south-west area of St Pierre where the reef slope meets the sand flat. This is an exciting opportunity for the dive centre to be involved in this kind of project as we have the expertise, passion and equipment necessary to restore St Pierre to its former glory!
Coral reef restoration (in brief) involves the following main tasks:
- The construction of roped or table structures that house the corals so that they can grow insitu (in their natural habitat).
- Dislodged/broken coral piece collection
- Fragmentation (the breaking up healthy corals found –> clones of themselves)
- Marine monitoring (fish and invertebrate surveys; crown of thorns starfish removal, drupella removal etc)
Within these tasks lie other actions that are required to monitor and ensure corals are growing and are healthy.
We look to see what corals are particularly resistant to warm waters that may be genetically heat tolerant, and we can hopefully fragment these individuals to give the reefs better success at surviving the next major warming event, which could just be around the corner.
Coral health around the Seychelles inner islands has deteriorated over the last couple of years, but most notably in 2016 when it was estimated that approx. 90% of corals were bleached. 2016 was an exceedingly warm year in every major ocean on Earth, with many countries reporting devastating news on the status of their coral reefs – in many cases over the period of just 6 months!
There is a lot of positivity and enthusiasm amongst the dive centre staff about the new restoration project. It would serve as a means for the divers to learn new skills and develop a better understanding of coral reef ecology. They also have a secret weapon, a passionate ally on their side (Jay McBride) who is coming to the end of his Divemaster course and is a trained marine biologist who emphasises that this is the project that takes Octopus Diver centre to the next level!
There will be more news of our work with the SNPA in the following weeks, as they have corals that need transplanting to designated areas of St Pierre.
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