"" Writer's Wanderings: Reef Restoration - Grand Cayman

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Reef Restoration - Grand Cayman

Soft corals sway in the ocean current.
One night of our dive trip to Grand Cayman we enjoyed Divers Night at the Eagle Ray Bar and Grill at Ocean Frontiers. The restaurant fixes a buffet of local dishes for a special price and Lois Hatcher from OF brings video from the week of divers and marine life. We had been to Stingray City with Lois and enjoyed our time there. She struck up a conversation with us as we were viewing the video and told us of the work she'd been doing with the Cayman Magic Reef Restoration.

We hadn't heard about the Carnival Magic cruise ship that in August of 2014 had mistakenly dropped anchor in an unauthorized area near Georgetown. According to the reports, there is some dispute over whether the pilot for the port, the captain, or the weather was to blame. I'm guessing there's enough blame to spread around. The ship was anchored in front of Bob Foster's Dive operation and  when the staff noticed that it was in the wrong spot, they notified authorities. By that time, the huge anchor and it's thick chain had damaged an estimated 1200 square foot area of pristine reef.

Delicate lacy and colorful sea fans.
Lois explained to us that the restoration had been going on since then with volunteers and donations of supplies and money to fund the recovery effort. The rubble needed to be removed as quickly as possible to keep it from rolling back and forth over the live corals that were still there. And the corals that were damaged needed to be assessed and those that were recoverable needed to be removed from the silt set aside and reattached with epoxy to encourage their continued growth. Unlike a vegetable garden that grows up quickly, corals take years to develop and grow. Growth in a year is measured in fractions of inches.

It is quite an effort as large pieces of rubble needed to be lifted with airbags and moved to a safe place in a sandy area and then of course cleaning off the corals and reattaching. It is a slow process. Lois has had some experience as she worked with a recovery project in 1996 from another cruise ship mishap with an anchor.

If you'd like to see some video from the project, go to the interview Lois and Joe Avary did on the Daybreak program on Cayman 27. And if you'd like to know more about the ongoing project, check out the Facebook page: Cayman Magic Reef Recovery. I'm so thankful for people like the volunteers working this project who are concerned with protecting and preserving the beauty of our oceans and reefs.

Picture taken by Bob Foster's divers of Carnival Magic anchor.

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