Last week the Atlantis hotel completed a successful two-day harvesting and out planting of corals to three coral reefs off New Providence that were destroyed by 2016’s Hurricane Matthew.
The ongoing project – an initiative of the nonprofit, Atlantis Blue Project Foundation – helps rehabilitate damaged coral reefs by growing small coral fragments to repopulate reefs that have been eliminated through disease, hurricanes, or bleaching.
Since its inception more than 10 years ago, the Atlantis Blue Project Foundation has generated over $5 million through funding from Atlantis guests’ participation in the resort’s marine adventures and is dedicated to saving sea species and their extraordinary habitats throughout The Bahamas and surrounding Caribbean seas.
With the help of Atlantis Marine team members, The Bahamas National Trust, The Nature Conservancy, BREEF, Stuart Cove’s and Dr. Craig Dahlgren, Director of the Perry Institute for Marine Science/coral reef scientist, the team harvested 150 pieces of finger coral from one of Atlantis’ two on-property nurseries and 100 pieces of staghorn coral from nurseries established by The Nature Conservancy and managed by Stuart Cove’s.
The corals – as 2 inch fragments, or cuttings from naturally occurring corals and placed on lines or tree structures at the nurseries – were monitored as they grew at rates faster than they normally do on reefs.
Once the corals were deemed healthy and large enough, they were placed back on the coral reefs in the ocean through multiple dives to sites that have been degraded by storm damage and human impacts.
“The ongoing coral nursery project at Atlantis presents an opportunity to educate people about the importance of coral reefs in The Bahamas,” said Debra Erickson, Executive Director of the Atlantis Blue Project Foundation. “We are very proud of our established nurseries and our on-going efforts to help repopulate areas that have lost their coral.
The Bahamas has more coral reef area than any other country in the region and one of the largest coral reef systems in the world.
Coral’s sustainability is vital to the marine ecosystem as they provide food and shelter for other marine life, in addition to helping protect shorelines and preserve beaches.
To date, the foundation has assisted in several coral reef out plantings as well as expanding the Marine Protected Area on Andros Island in The Bahamas to add more than one million acres to the park, protecting the entire western side of the island.
(Atlantis is among the top Paradise Island hotels).
— Dana Niland, CJ Contributor