Here’s a great idea for your next vacation. Pick a tropical island paradise, Fiji for example; get wet in the pristine waters and break out the scuba gear; but most important, turn your vacation from tourism to voluntourism. Become a citizen scientist on a mission. Try coral reef gardening.
These beautiful coral reefs, teeming with marine life that give you such a rush, they are not doing so well. In fact, many of them are in serious jeopardy. Its something that you might see on your first dive, like corals that are now colorless, bleached by rising ocean temperatures or broken and shattered corals thrown down by dredging or covered with silt. (photo – Michele Westmorland)
Fortunately, concerned individuals and resorts are doing great work to repair this damage and many of these resorts offer programs that invite you to join in. Take Fiji for instance, here’s 10 resorts that offer great voluntourism programs, but first a little primer on coral reef gardening.
What is Coral Reef Gardening?
Also called coral aquaculture, its a process of taking young corals when they are most vulnerable and growing them in a nursery until they are large enough to be replanted into the ocean environment. (photo – Coral Restoration Foundation)
Often the corals selected for the nursery are those that exhibit the most resiliency in the face of rising sea temperatures and bleaching. Consequently, this process not only restores a reef but does it with corals that are stronger and more resistant.
Ten Resorts Offer Coral Reef Gardening Programs
This list of ten resorts was compiled by thesaltsirens.com and it offers great possibilities starting with the famous Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort (see our article on Jean-Michel) and includes the Outrigger Fiji; the Intercontinental Fiji and the Plantation Resort. That’s just four of the ten resorts and remember that the resorts are located on different islands so make sure to check out connections when booking. (photo – Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort)
Coral Gardening : A New Priority
The New York Times wrote a recent article on many resorts that have a new priority, not exploiting the ocean’s reefs but restoring them. So if you want to try somewhere other than Fiji, this New York Times list offers some terrific resorts in very exotic locations.
Like the Outrigger Konotta and the Taj Exotica in the Maldives; the Andaman in Malaysia, the Lila Manggis in Bali and Wakatobi Dive Resort in southeast Sulawesi. Wakatobi is run by Henrik Rosen, an old friend of Blue Ocean. Henrik was interviewed in our 2014 Summit and you can read that article here. (photo – Wakatobi Eco Resort)
“Programs like this have to come from the heart,” says Doris Goh, of the Alila Manggis. “We believe in being good neighbors and showing that there is sustainability in tourism and that we will protect the environment and the beauty of it for future generations.”
To date these, resorts have transplanted thousands of square feet of coral and are growing more as we bring this story to you.
Ms. Fattori, the Outrigger Konotta’s resident marine biologist adds: “It doesn’t matter where people live, how close or far away from the ocean,” … “Everybody is connecting to the ecosystem. If we don’t have healthy oceans, we cannot have life on land. If we are not taking care of the precious treasure now,” referring to coral reefs, “the next generation won’t have the possibility to admire and be amazed by all the biodiversity of the ecosystem.” (photo – Wakatobi)
If Fiji and the Maldives are a bit far and you want to bring the family search our website. Blue Ocean has been covering coral restoration programs for years and have featured programs in Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and Asia. There are lots of possibilities to choose from.
This article is one of many that we are bringing to you to celebrate 2018 as The Year Of the Reef, stay tuned for much more.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
See these Related Blue Ocean Articles:
Summit: 2015, Citizen Science, Dive Tourism as tools for conservation, The value of coral reefs. Local activism and engagement.
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