(Blue Ocean Network – March 29, 2012) — The Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) will soon start a pilot project in Bonaire, assisting local authorities and a local coral reef restoration group in developing a restoration program on the main island of Bonaire and adjacent island of Klein Bonaire.
Sponsored by Buddy Dive Resort, the Bonaire Reef Pilot Project will be spearheaded by Ken Nedimyer, CRF Board member Denise Nedimyer, and the CRF staff, who will be traveling to Buddy Dive Resort, Bonaire in April. they will begin work installing coral nurseries on the Buddy Dive Resort house reef, also a training area for volunteers, and an area to monitor coral growth. The main coral nursery will be on Klein Bonaire, where there is limited public access and minimal disturbance for the vulnerable growing corals.
Bonaire has some of the Caribbean’s best-preserved reefs.
Bonaire is well known for its role in preserving nature, in particular the marine environment, and has some of the best-preserved reefs in the Caribbean. However, like many reefs in the Florida Keys and throughout the Caribbean, areas of Bonaire’s coral reefs have experienced extensive damage due to hurricanes, disease, and coral bleaching.
CRF’s goals in Bonaire are to assist the local government and local environmentalists to preserve the existing genetic diversity of staghorn and elkhorn corals, establish a nursery and restoration program designed to restore the shallow reefs, and to work with the community to identify and reduce land-based stressors, such as uncontrolled storm water runoff and poor sewage treatment practices.
In addition to working with local Bonaire authorities to identify specific sites for coral nurseries and reef outplantings, CRF will collect different genetic strains of staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) and elkhorn (Acropora palmata) coral, that will be used to populate coral growing trees in two coral nurseries.
These corals will be monitored and maintained by the local support group trained by CRF and will form the base nursery stock that will be fragmented every six months to develop second and third generation corals in each genetic subgroup.
In late 2013, these second and third generation corals will be taken from the nursery and outplanted onto nearby degraded reefs.