Curacao, much like all other Caribbean nations, has seen the health of its coral reefs declining over the past three decades. In addition to addressing the causes for the reef decline, active restoration efforts may aid the natural rehabilitation process of threatened coral species and degraded reefs.
To address this problem specifically on Curacao, the Curacao Reef Restoration Program has been developed by Ocean Encounters Diving, CARMABI and the Coral Restoration Foundation. Additionally, these partners have agreed to and signed a Memoradum of Understanding (MOU) on April 13th, 2015 to officially launch this program on May 19th, 2015.
The ultimate objective of the “Curacao Reef Restoration Program” is to restore the shallow water populations of staghorn corals in Curacao, thus helping not only to mitigate against the uncertainties of climate change but also maintain and enhance reef biodiversity and improve reef fisheries. This will be done by a combination of efforts to replant degraded reefs with nursery grown corals, and re-establishing multi-clonal thickets of each species of coral that will be able to successfully reproduce and seed downstream areas with an ever increasing supply of viable coral larvae. This work will supplement the important coral reproduction and reseeding work currently being done by SECORE.
“The significance of the Curacao Reef Restoration Program is that together as a community here on Curacao, we will be restoring our shallow water reef system while educating our youth about the importance of protecting and preserving our natural ecosystem. I believe programs like this help solidify a natural sustainability for future generations.” (As quoted by Jeremiah Peek, Managing Director, Ocean Encounters Diving).
This project will contribute to Curacao’s growing reputation in the areas of coral research and conservation and the proposed use of asexually grown colonies to harvest sexual offspring of threatened Caribbean coral species distinguishes this project from similar endeavors undertaken, elsewhere in the Caribbean. Consequently, the project “Curacao Reef Restoration Program” aims to restore the shallow water populations of Staghorn (and potentially Elkhorn) corals in Curacao, to maintain and enhance reef biodiversity and improve reef fisheries by reintroducing critical settlement habitat for reef fishes.
Ocean Encounters, CARMABI and the Coral Restoration Foundation will be setting up and installing the 1st ten tree nursery between May 19th & the 26th. The location for this nursery will be on the Stella Maris divesite, located at the Sea Aquarium beach outside the wave breakers.