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Ocean Frontiers to Establish Coral Nursery for Reef Conservation

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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.

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WIN a Bigblue AL-1200NP Dive Torch!!!

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For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Liquid Sports to give away a Bigblue AL-1200NP Dive Torch!

This torch delivers 1200 lumens of light powered by an ion rechargeable battery. There are 4 levels of brightness with burn times between 2-20 hours. Battery charge level is indicated via coloured lights around the on/off button. The beam angle is 10°. The anodised aluminium alloy housing sealed by double ‘O’ rings with a max operating depth of 100m. SRP £125.00 which includes torch, charging cradle and battery.

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:

In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can read here), we reported via the Marine Conservation Society that the UK’s landmark post-Brexit fisheries legislation has now become law. The Fisheries Act is the first legislation of its kind in nearly how many years?

Is it:

  • A) 60
  • B) 50
  • C) 40

Answer, A, B or C to the question above:

Liquid Sports Bigblue AL-1200NP Dive Torch November 2020

Competition
  • Enter the country you live in
  • Terms and Conditions: This competition is open to all visitors to www.scubaverse.com except for members of the Scubaverse team and their families, or employees of Liquid Sports and their families. A valid answer to the competition’s question must be entered. If no valid answer to the competition’s question is entered, your entry will be invalid. Only one competition entry per entrant permitted (multiple entries will lead to disqualification). Only one prize per winner. All prizes are non-transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will be attached to www.scubaverse.com. When prizes are supplied by third parties, www.scubaverse.com is acting as their agents and as such we exclude all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of this competition. This competition closes on 06/01/21. The winner will be notified by email. The Editor-in-Chief’s decision is final.

  • The following fields are optional, however if you fill them in it will help us to determine what prizes to source in the future.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
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Gear News

Northern Diver Christmas Sale starts TODAY!

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This year Northern Diver’s Christmas offers are starting on Black Friday and running until midnight on New Year’s Eve! 

There are some great deals to be had across the site – www.ndiver.com – from discounted Drysuits and Coltri compressors to 15% off their entire Lighting Section!

And if you can’t find the perfect present for the diver in your life, they have a choice of Gift Cards on offer. They are even giving you £25 extra when you purchase a £100 voucher!

The offers don’t stop there – there is FREE shipping on all orders over £100 and even a FREE gift with every online purchase.

Every purchase will get you entered into a great prize draw to win one of their new Electracore 3.0mm Rechargeable Heated Vests!

And should you find that you need to return any of your purchases, Northern Diver understand that Christmas may be a little different for everyone this year and you may not get to see every one over Christmas, so they have extended their Returns Period to the end of January 2021. (Valid for purchases made from Black Friday to end of December 2020).

Some unmissable offers to look out for are the Varilux Zoom, part of the Varilux Black & Gold Range, with its variable beam width; and Northern Diver’s 4mm compressed Neoprene Drysuit, the Voyager, which is on offer for an incredible £475!

For more information visit the Northern Diver website by clicking here.

Photo credit: Joe Duffy

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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