Non-indigenous trees are now sprouting up all around Cayman, Even in the Sister Islands…
It may sound like an invasive threat; but these trees aren’t on land, they’re in the water, part of the country’s coral nursery programme.
The Department of Environment and environmentalists hope the fruits of these coral trees can help supplement the health of our reefs for years to come.
Hovering in the treetops, around 40 feet below the ocean’s surface, coral reef experts show DiveTech staffers how to properly hang coral fragments in their brand new coral nursery.
“The idea is an old idea, but the technology and the ability to do it is new, and growing corals in nurseries and re-planting reefs has a lot of value and it’s being done all over the Caribbean and all over the world,” said Ken Nedimyer, President and Founder of the Coral Restoration Foundation.
He told Cayman 27 this method of propagating coral is proven and effective.
“It’s going to work. It is working in a lot of places, and it’s going to work here,” said Mr. Nedimyer.
In late 2014, cabinet gave the green light to the country’s first ever coral nursery management policy, and this week, the first of Cayman’s coral trees are finally taking root in our waters.
“I’ve seen the results. It’s absolutely incredible, I can’t wait a year from now to see these trees flourishing,” said Wayne Hasson, a board member with Seas of Change, which helped fund the coral nursery project.
He said coral fragments can double and triple in size in just a few months time.
“I think growing coral today, it can only provide a positive thing for the Cayman Islands,” said Mr. Hasson.
“Crucial is the right word, there’s really nothing more important,” said Seas of Change board member and Dive Training Magazine associate publisher Jerry Beaty.
He gave credit to the DOE for taking proactive steps to protect Cayman’s undersea environment.
“They have been fantastic, they’ve spent a lot of time doing their research, they were very careful, they did their homework, they put together the permits,” said Mr. Beaty.
In a matter of months, today’s tiny coral fragments will be all grown up, and ready to be planted to enhance Cayman’s already stellar coral reefs.
Five coral nurseries have been given the stamp of approval to start growing in Cayman’s waters.
Central Caribbean Marine Institute in Little Cayman has had coral nurseries in place since 2014, and their research and advice helped shape the DOE guidelines that were eventually approved by cabinet.
DiveTech, Sunset House, Cayman Eco Divers, and Ocean Frontiers are establishing or have established coral nurseries on Grand Cayman. Brac Scuba Shack on Cayman Brac also have the green light to try their underwater green thumb.