The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation has started to populate its first coral nursery structures as part of its ‘Fragments of Recovery, Coral Reef Restoration Program. The project was recently launched after most of the previous coral nurseries were damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“The first Staghorn corals (Acropora cervicornis) have been transplanted to the coral nursery station on the dive site ‘Moonscape, close to Simpson Bay. The two nursery ladders from the Nature Foundation are now populated with coral fragments in order to raise new coral colonies to repopulate the damaged coral reefs,” commented Nature Foundation Projects Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.
“Now that we are in a phase where we further along in our recovery we have started to relaunch our coral restoration program. We received tremendous help from the community after the Hurricane as well as from the Coral Restoration Foundation, the US National and Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the Coral Reef Restoration Consortium to get our project going again. Slowly we will be adding coral in our nursery which we will eventually outplant on our reefs that were severely impacted by the Hurricanes. We estimate that we lost about 80% of our coral combined,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.
The Nature Foundation also received support and expert assistance from Jamaican Coral Restoration Expert Michelle McNaught during the initial stages of populating the fragments.