Connect with us
background

News

Ocean Frontiers to Establish Coral Nursery for Reef Conservation

Published

on

After waiting and watching international research, Government has approved local nursery policy in the Cayman Islands

Ocean Frontiers, the conservation-minded dive operator at Grand Cayman’s East End, expects to soon establish a coral nursery to help repair and replenish local reefs. Co-owner Steve Broadbelt has long wanted to set one up, so when the Cayman Islands government approved a policy for nurseries earlier this year and called for local proposals, Ocean Frontiers promptly submitted theirs. The company has been granted approval in principal, but the go-ahead from the Department of Environment, which will oversee the conservation work, has not been issued.

“We need to wait until hurricane season is completed before any significant work can begin on the nursery,” says Broadbelt. “We plan to have our first coral trees in service by the end of 2015.”

After monitoring research successes and failures internationally, the Cayman Islands Department of Environment noted that Caribbean researchers are having good success with Acropora, a fast-growing species of coral that includes elkhorn coral and staghorn coral. Once plentiful in Cayman’s near-shore reefs, these corals are now considered critically endangered. They began to die off in the 1980s, victims of disease, damage and global warming. Coral nurseries might help rescue them.

Research Officer John Bothwell says after corals are established in a nursery, clippings will be outplanted to reef sites identified by the DOE. Although outplanting still has a low success rate because of the reasons the corals died off in the first place, Bothwell says they have expectations.

“The hope of coral nurseries is that by out-planting fingerling Acroporas in a sort of head starting, they will have a better chance of becoming established on the reef. There may even be the potential for identifying corals that are better able to survive, are more heat tolerant for example, and increasing their number on the reef faster than would naturally occur,” says Bothwell.

Ocean Frontiers has been approved for 10 trees, with approval of 25 more once nursery shows that the corals will grow there. Lois Hatcher, experienced with coral nurseries and reef restoration, will be managing the coral nursery. She has been busy with prep work.

“We have been picking out donor colonies and monitoring them, especially now for bleaching as we want strong corals to put in the nursery. There are many different genotypes and some are more resistant to heat, salinity etc. It’s important that we do our research and pick corals that are resistant and survive,” she says.

“We are fortunate to have Lois on board, the project wouldn’t be possible without her expertise. It is critical to have an experienced project leader in order for the nursery to have the hands-on day to day supervision that is needed,” says Broadbelt, who recruited Hatcher with this in mind. “We strongly believe that the person running the project needs to live and breathe coral – and that describes Lois.”

The Department of Environment has established guidelines for the six operations, including Ocean Frontiers, which have been shortlisted to establish the nurseries.

“Having a guiding policy is important to protect wild corals and to make sure that the corals remain the property of the people of the Cayman Islands, and that all nursery activity is conservation centered, to benefit the Cayman Islands,” says John Bothwell, explaining that DOE has in the past rejected proposals for commercial coral harvesting.

“Everyone is enthusiastic about the opportunity and all are cognizant of the long road ahead,” he said. “Coral nurseries like any other gardening, requires a lot of work. The nurseries need regular ‘weeding’ to remove algae that might otherwise overgrow the coral fingerlings, as well as the occasional removal of other pest organisms.”

A current global bleaching event is seriously affecting Cayman’s coral reefs, and creating urgency for the conservation measures. Hatcher, who is currently helping lead a major reef restoration project, is anxious to get started and feels confident they will have coral colonies to outplant within 18 months after they get the green light. The nursery will also give Ocean Frontiers another program to educate guests, and get them involved in caring for corals.

“This planet will be in a lot of trouble if we lose all our coral reefs,” says Lois. “They are home to 25% of all marine life. Every breath of air we take comes from the ocean and corals are primary producers. They are the first defense against hurricanes and so many other things. Corals are adaptable given time, but time is running out and they are not keeping up with the changes naturally. Coral Nurseries are a helping hand.”

About Ocean Frontiers and Compass Point Dive Resort

Ocean Frontiers Dive Shop is located at Compass Point Dive Resort on the remote East End of Grand Cayman. Founded in 1996 with one dive boat and a dream to introduce divers to the wonders of East End diving, the company has grown into one of Cayman’s premier dive operations with a reputation for catering to small groups and having the island’s friendliest staff. Ocean Frontiers is also recognized as one of the most conservation-minded dive operators in the Cayman Islands with a long history of promoting ocean protection through its company programs, and an unwavering support for outside environmental projects. The winner of Project AWARE’s Environmental Achievement Award in 2004 and 2010, Ocean Frontiers has again been recognized in 2012. The company also received the PADI Green Star Dive Center accreditation in 2012 for demonstrating a dedication to conservation, the first dive operator in the Cayman Islands to receive this distinction.

The Compass Point Dive Resort, which received the Green Globe Certification award in 2010 for sustainable tourism, is the epitome of laidback luxury. It features 28 luxurious one, two and three bedroom oceanfront, ocean view and poolside condominiums, each with its own private patio or balcony and all beautifully decorated with stylish island décor, and fully equipped with all of the comforts of home. Eagle Ray’s Dive Bar and Grill is now open for business at the resort.

Gear News

Typhoon International’s new Storm3 Boot

Published

on

Typhoon International has introduced the Storm3 Boot, a wonderfully comfortable semi-soft boot that combines the comfort and thermal protection of a ‘wetsuit for the feet’ with a sturdy midweight sole for getting around on the water’s edge. A reinforced heel and toe provides even greater durability while maximising support at the same time.

The Storm3 Boot is made of 3mm neoprene, a popular thickness for year round use.  The neoprene fabric is super-stretchy so your feet and ankles can bend and flex the way they want to without any restriction.  A comfort-curved side zip makes the boot quick and easy to get in and out of.

The Storm3 Boot is perfect for dinghy sailors, surfers and windsurfers, in fact for all watersports enthusiasts, to give protection from the cold water. The boot is available in adult and children sizes. Also, as part of the 2021 Typhoon footwear collection, is the Storm3 Shoe.

The Storm3 Boot is part of Typhoon’s exciting new Storm3 range of watersports clothing which includes wetsuits, footwear and gloves, so water lovers can be dressed top to toe in Storm3 from Typhoon.

Visit www.typhoon-int.co.uk to see the full range and to find details of your nearest stockist.


Sizes:

  • Youth, 12 (30/31) UK1 (32/33), UK2 (34/35)
  • Adult 6 (39/40, 7 (41, 8 (42), 9 (43), 10-11 (44/45, 12 (46/47, 13-14 (48/49)

Prices:

  • Storm3 boot adult  £41.95 inc VAT
  • Storm3 boot child  £28.95 (VAT exempt)
Continue Reading

News

Dive Wild in Cocos!

Published

on

Cocos Island has been one of those bucket list dive destinations for all of my diving life. Back in around 2009/10 my friend was continuously encouraging me to take up diving knowing I loved the water and wildlife so much. It still took me some time to commit though and that commitment came after watching his videos from his Cocos Island trip. Seeing close up video of an abundance of sharks was something I could definitely sink my teeth into.

Fast forward nearly a decade and I was fortunate to win Undersea Hunters “Dive Wild” Instagram Photography Competition in 2019. This was a dream come true for me as having a young family meant the expense of such a dive trip was a little out of reach. Now I had the opportunity of a lifetime to dive one of the most sort after dive locations in the world. A trip was planned for May/June 2020 and the excitement with each passing day was immense BUT then Covid hit. Unfortunately, as Covid took a hold around the world the trip had to be postponed on four different occasions until I finally got my chance in May this year to visit Costa Rica and the infamous Cocos Island with Undersea Hunter onboard Argo.

My trip on the Argo began on May 16th. A 130-foot vessel that has a mix of research work ship and luxury yacht, providing 9 spacious rooms to accommodate 18 guests (14 on this particular trip). It also offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to dive a few hundred metres below the surface on the DeepSea Submersible. A trip on the DeepSea Submersible comes at an extra cost but would be such a unique opportunity that was unfortunately not available for our specific trip. Argo’s ability to transport the DeepSea Submersible meant the dive deck and outside space was more than enough for the 14 dive guests plus guides to get ready and then board the two dive skiffs to transport to the dive sites. A large and comfortable lounge and dining area coupled with a large sundeck provided ample space for relaxing on the long journey and between dives.

Once everybody was checked in onboard and all luggage accounted for, we set off on the mammoth voyage to Cocos Island around 350 miles into the Pacific Ocean. This was going to take around 36 hours and gave us plenty of time to get organised for the 7 days of diving we had planned over the coming week. Thankfully, after having not been on a liveaboard for 2 years and on a boat at sea for 9 months the crossing was very kind to me. A gentle swell meant any sea sickness was kept at a bare minimum and I was able to function and pay attention. Particularly important for the boat briefing and one that I was very impressed with.

Our host for the trip Juan Manuel was entertaining and kept us engaged throughout. The dedication to safety is what really resonated with me. It’s easy to get complacent when it comes to liveaboard diving and forget about the dangers that come with living on a boat. While Covid protocols were obviously dealt with, it was the issues with potential fires etc that I was impressed with. Unfortunately, we are probably all aware of the devastating liveaboard fires in recent years.

With times of adversity comes lessons and in some cases change. I believe safety has always been paramount, but with the fact that one of the fires was attributed to an electrical charging fault, it was particularly encouraging being told that anything left on charge in the common areas unattended at night would be unplugged for safety reasons. It was also pointed out that members of the crew would take it in turns to do 20-minute checks and sensors are used to ensure checks are being made. While we were all tired from our busy diving days and early nights were common throughout the guests, I did happen to stay up later one night to watch a film. It was pleasing to witness these checks first hand as the captain walked through numerous times marking the sensor each time.

It’s safe to say I felt completely at ease on the Argo for my trip to Cocos Island. The staff were accommodating for all our needs and went above and beyond to make sure our trip was safe and comfortable. The food was a delicious buffet and there were always alternatives if you didn’t eat a particular dish, while the diving from the two skiffs was well run with great help onboard and great guiding. I also feel I need to make a special mention for the theatre that was the scene of our entertainment – the island itself. Cocos Island was one of the most awe-inspiring places I’ve ever visited. An island of a thousand waterfalls and dense tropical rainforest it left me amazed with each passing turn – and underwater it was pretty special too! Stay tuned for my next blog with an overview of the week’s diving and also look out for the full article in Dive Travel Adventures soon.

More information

www.underseahunter.com

www.visitcostarica.com/en


Find out more about Sean, his photography and his hosted trips at: www.greatwhitesean.com

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

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

More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular