SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) – The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation has started the process of out planting the first fragments of coral on reefs within the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area as part of its ‘Fragments of Recovery, Coral Reef Restoration Program.
The project was launched with the assistance of the Coral Restoration Foundation, NOAA, the Coral Reef Restoration Consortium and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance after some 80% of some species of coral and most of the previous coral nurseries were damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“The first Staghorn and Elkhorn corals have been transplanted unto reefs within the Marine Park from our coral nursery station close to Simpson Bay. We planted back both species of coral and will be monitoring them for a while to see how they perform,” commented Nature Foundation Projects Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.
“Now that we are in a phase where we are further along in our recovery we have started to ramp up our coral restoration program to restore some of the damage to our coral reefs caused not only by the Hurricanes but by the issues the island has been facing over the last few decades in terms of unrestrained coastal development and improperly managed waste-water.
“We received tremendous help from the community after the Hurricane as well as from the Coral Restoration Foundation, the US National and Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and the Coral Reef Restoration Consortium to get our project going again.
“We will continue to plant coral in the Marine Park from our nursery when they are healthy enough to help restore the reefs that were severely impacted. We estimate that we lost about80% of our coral combined,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.
The Nature Foundation also received support and expert assistance from Jamaican Coral Restoration Expert Michelle McNaught during the initial stages of populating the fragments.