Passionate Coral Health Care in Jamaica Softcoral

Colorful soft coral

Passionate Coral Health Care in Jamaica

We partnered-up with INTASAVE Oceans to explain you all about coral nurseries and coral health care in Jamaica. Learn more about how to adapt to the effects of climate change. Think global - act local!

Dive O'Clock was asked to partner-up with INTASAVE Oceans to raise awareness for their 'Healthy Seas, Happy People' project in the Caribbean. Their goal is to help local communities adapt to the effects of climate change which is a great way to think global and act local. With this special blog post I zoom in on coral nurseries as they are a very interesting way to restore the reef.

What is coral?

First of all: Corals are living animals, not rocks. Their body is a small polyp and most of them live in colonies. There are many different kinds of corals. Hard and soft corals are the easiest to separate. Hard corals are the ones that look like a rock, their colors blend in the background and they do not move underwater. Soft corals can move with the current and they are often bright colored, ideal for underwater photography. If you take a close look at soft corals it often looks like a nerve system.

Corals that are often mentioned in dive site briefings and easy to recognize by their similar shape are: Gorgonian fans, Brain corals and Table corals. They are slow growing and really fragile. That is why you need to have proper buoyancy control before diving close to the reef.

Passionate Coral Health Care in Jamaica Gorgonianfan
Passionate Coral Health Care in Jamaica Braincoral
Passionate Coral Health Care in Jamaica Tablecoral

Different types of easy to recognize corals: Gorgonian fan, Brain corals (with Titan Trigger fish) & Table coral.

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Coral nurseries

Corals are in danger worldwide. More and more corals are bleaching nowadays mainly due to global warming and pollution. Dying corals turn white (bleach) before turning brown (death). To restore the reef and help rebuilding ecosystems coral nurseries have been established around the world.

Have you ever heard of coral nurseries? Nurseries, in general, are places where 'care' and 'growth' are central. With coral nurseries people help corals to grow in order to restore the reef on a local scale. Coral nurseries are often tree shaped constructions with pieces of coral (mainly staghorn coral) hanging on ropes, like a decorated Christmas tree.

Passionate Coral Health Care in Jamaica

The Boscobel coral nursery of INTASAVE in Jamaica

INTASAVE Oceans has established two coral nurseries in Jamaica, Boscobel and Blue Fields, as part of their 'Healthy Seas, Happy People' project. Healthy reef systems provide natural protection from storm surges, and they are a rich habitat for marine life. The Boscobel coral nursery is located on northern coast of Jamaica.

5 Questions about the Boscobel coral nursery answered by INTASAVE:
  • How do you create a coral nursery?
    "Having measured the coral so that the growth rate can be tracked, these fragments are strung with wire and thread through the trees. The trees are then ready to be put into position underwater and begin growing back the reef."

  • How does the coral nursery work?
    "1044 fragments of coral were harvested to attach to the 12 trees set up at Boscobel, and since root stock has also been harvested, it will grow back a sustainable stock of fragments for future nurseries, making it the only time fragments need to be harvested from the reef itself. From this point on, the nurseries become net “givers” of coral to the reef."

  • What kind of coral do you use for the Boscobel coral nursery?
    Passionate Coral Health Care in Jamaica Coralnursery1
    "The coral used is primarily staghorn and elkhorn coral, due to the way it branches as it grows, as well as its attractiveness as a habitat for fish and role in breaking down weeds. Since these are protected species of coral, permits and safeguards all have to be in place so we can do that."

  • How do you take care of the coral in your nursery?
    "In the coming months, wardens from the sanctuary will act as Coral Gardeners, going down to clean the trees twice a month, with CARIBSAVE staff training them up during the first dive. This prevents algae and mussels attaching themselves to the fragments, which suffocates the coral, or predators, such as fire worm and snails feeding, on the coral. Wardens are local residents; which brings the community into the conservation programs, creates local advocates and provides much-needed local employment."

  • When is a coral nursery finished and what happens afterwards?
    "In just 9 months’ time, the team will be able to take the fragments from the trees and replant them back onto the reef. When the coral gets big enough, it gets cut down from the tree and glued to the reef.
    The Boscobel Marine Protected Area lies next to the popular Beaches resort and the site for the new nursery is also used by the resort as a dive site for beginners, giving them exposure to coral restoration efforts from the beginning of their diving careers. The set up team first went out to look at the site and check that it was within the sanctuary boundaries, before heading back to the dock of the water sports center to set up the 12 “trees” which make up the nursery."
INTASAVE established 2 Coral Nurseries (Boscobel & Bluefields) and fish sanctuaries in Jamaica, Grenada, St Vincent, the Grenadines and St Lucia which so far resulted in:
Passionate Coral Health Care in Jamaica INTASAVE
  • 544% increase in the Biomass of Herbivores
  • 250% increase on overall fish biomass
  • 15% increase on live coral cover

What you can do

The INTASAVE websites are offline (2020) and their social media has not been updated, so I guess their organization is in-active at the moment. Learn more about how to fight against global climate change on a local scale. Watch the INTASAVE Oceans video below for more information.

Special thanks to INTASAVE Oceans and their expert team of researchers! Keep up the good work!

Happy bubbles!
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Marlies Wolters
Founder of Dive O'Clock "It's dive o'clock somewhere!"
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