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Live Coral Fragments Replanted During Restoration Project Being Prepared for Annual Spawning Event

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Magic Reef Restoration Project

Heavy work completed for Magic Reef Restoration Project; Maintenance Continues to give coral best chance to thrive

Dive volunteers in Grand Cayman are carefully combing a section of restored coral reef in George Town Harbour, scrub brushes in hand, trying to keep reattached coral fragments free of threatening algae to make them more attractive when local corals spawn next month.

“85% of the corals have survived the first year, and they look good,” said Lois Hatcher, co-coordinator of the Magic Reef Restoration Project which began work in September 2014. “But we need to get in there and keep scrubbing the algae away so that during the spawning event, floating gametes can attach themselves to these small corals and grow new coral colonies, fortifying this whole area.”

An experienced coral restoration specialist, Hatcher and a core group of local volunteers, supported by dive operators and the local community, have spent hundreds of hours on the project over the past two years. A fundraiser brought in $28,000 for the project and Carnival Cruise Lines also donated US $100,000 without admitting fault.

“The heavy work is done, and now we need to focus on maintenance,” said Hatcher. “Because of warmer water and other things, algae is growing rapidly and covering the coral fragments. We need to clean the algae off before the coral spawning mid-September.”

During coral spawning, corals simultaneously release eggs and sperm to make new life in the water. These fertilized eggs, or gametes, ride the currents until they find a spot to descend and start new coral colonies. The annual event, which happens in the middle of the night, is more predictable these days, so Hatcher says timing is everything during spawning and too much algae can interfere with this reproductive cycle.

“A reef’s ecosystem is well connected and balanced, and when something throws the balance off, its delicate work to restore it,” she said. “Sorting good algae from bad algae to give these corals a better chance for long-term survival is part of that work.”

The world’s coral reefs are under attack by global warming, massive bleaching events, pollution, invasive lionfish and other factors. Hatcher and her small team of volunteers continue to do what they can to restore the balance in this particular ecosystem in the Cayman Islands. For her work with this coral restoration project and the new Cayman Coral Nursery Program, Lois Hatcher, a photo pro with Ocean Frontiers, has received a Stingray Award for Watersports Employee of the Year from the Cayman Islands Tourism Association. Joey Avery who spent many hours working side by side with her underwater at the restoration site says it is well deserved.

“She walks the walk in a world where so many just talk the talk,” said Avery.

The Magic Reef Restoration Project continues to give local divers a chance to get involved with maintenance work at the site, and Lois Hatcher says there are still two coral trees with 100 coral colonies that need to be out-planted. Volunteers are still needed and dive industry leaders say personal involvement is key to conservation.

“It’s great that volunteers, both guests and locals, can go out and help clean the site – it’s a way for them to become invested in Cayman’s marine environment,” said Rod McDowall, Operations Manager for Red Sail Sports. “People who care about something always try to protect it.”

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Take an immersive dive below the waves off the Welsh coast using 360 VR: Common Spider Crab (Watch Video)

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A week-long series from Jake Davies…

Below the waves off the Welsh coast, there are a range of species and habitats that can be seen. However, you don’t have to venture too far from the shore to see them or don’t have to leave the comfort of your home. Using 360 videos provides an immersive feeling of being below the water and encountering many species and habitats from diving one of the most important habitats and species that aren’t often seen whilst diving. For more of an experience of being below the waves, the VR videos can be viewed using a VR headset.

Take a VR dive just off the shore and explore what can be found within the shallow waters of a sandy beach. Fish can be founding cruising amongst the seaweed and numerous crustacean (Crabs, lobster, prawns, shrimps) species can be found walking around the seafloor. Common Spider Crabs (Maja brachydactyla) are one of the largest crabs species found along the coast and during the early summer, they aggregate in large numbers to moult which allows them to grow.


Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Dive Training Blogs

Join Me On My Commute To Scuba Diving Key Largo! (Watch Video)

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Sunrise was so beautiful the other morning, I wanted to take a time lapse of my drive from home in South Miami to Key Largo before morning dives with Horizon Divers.

I thought you might enjoy taking the ride with me! Silly I know! But here’s 2 minutes of chill!

D.S.D.O,

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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