Diver replants coral in St. Maarten waters.
COLE BAY–Nature Foundation has started the process of out-planting the first fragments of coral on reefs within Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area as part of its “Fragments of Recovery, Coral Reef Restoration Programme.”
The project was launched with the assistance of the Coral Restoration Foundation, the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Coral Reef Restoration Consortium and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance after some 80 per cent of some species of coral and most of the previous coral nurseries were damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017.
The first Staghorn and Elkhorn corals have been transplanted onto reefs within the Marine Park from the 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,” said 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 programme 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 wastewater.”
Nature Foundation will continue to plant corals in the marine park from its nursery when they are healthy enough to help restore the reefs that were severely impacted.
“We estimate that we lost about 80 per cent of our coral combined,” said Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.
Nature Foundation also received support and expert assistance from Jamaican coral restoration expert Michelle McNaught during the initial stages of populating the fragments.