And on the topic of coral reef health, the Fragments of Hope has been working in several sites for many more years to re-seed devastated reef with resilient and diverse corals farmed in man-made nurseries. Their work has helped to prevent the loss of valuable marine ecosystems and is recognized as one of the region’s most successful reef restoration project with over sixty thousand coral fragments planted. Lisa Carne of Fragments of Hope gave us an update on their coral restoration efforts.
Lisa Carne, Founder & Executive Director, Fragments of Hope
“We started at Laughing Bird Caye National Park so we have been there for over a decade and we expanded to over ten different sites in over four different MPAs. We also began at South Water Caye Marine Reserve and Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve, Gladden Split and Silk Caye Marine Reserves. That is going really well. Those corals are the main reef building or branching corals. These are very fast growing and branching main reef building. They grow in the shallow areas which provide the shoreline protection. The only good news in this whole story are that these corals are unaffected by this new disease. Just to clarify, the main corals that we have been working in out planting for over ten years now these corals luckily do not get this disease. So I think that will be another conclusion that will decide restoration as usual will continue with the coral that are unaffected by the disease. We will send our thoughts on what to do with the corals that we are worried about.”
For the past few weeks, we've been reporting on SCTLD, Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease and the untold damage it can do to Belize's reef.
And, the truth is, the reef has been under attack for decades, from coral bleaching in the early aughts, to the Lionfish invasion which has been going on for about 10 years.
And that's why the concept of Coral Nurseries is so important. It's spearheaded in Belize by marine biologist Lisa Carne out of Placencia and a few months ago in San Pedro we met some kids who have taken up her mantle on their island. They are part of the Kids In Action summer program and they told us about their Coral reef restoration program and coral nursery:
Brittney Garbutt - Instructor, Coral Nursery "With the coral nursey which is a restoration project where we have 3 of the most endangered species of coral and we're trying our best to restore them, grow them and out plant them to keep them alive. So far, we are quite successful with the growth and it's just waiting a little bit more for the corals to grow until we can plant them out there. The 3 corals we're dealing with are of the acropora genus, the species of them are the Elkhorn, the Staghorn and the Fused Staghorn. Now these 3 corals are kind of like the frame builders of the reef, so once they start building up, they actually bring in more coral, we ended up with brain coral and pillar corals too, they just popped up. There's a disease that affects these particular corals, kind of like bleaching but it's called white band disease, only affects these 3 corals and it whipped out quite a bit of them, so what we have now is all that we have now. So, to prevent from being completely gone, remember these are the frame builders of the reef, so if you want to think of it like a foundation of a house, they're the foundation, you start bottom up. If you remove the bottom of the house, it crumbles. These guys are the frame of the reef, so without them, it's a problem right because we have them here for now, what if they don't exist 10, 20 years down the road? We're here to make sure what we have now, lasts for the rest of the generation."
Liandra Bodden "The cleaning of the corals is like I said how special they are to marine life. It was something pretty to see, even though the fishes got together like down there. They know that it's a big role, so they all gathered together and protect the coral; it was like something really beautiful and awesome. It's something that I do see myself doing in the future; I have a big passion for marine life and would love to see my future grow."
That interview was conducted in July.
Brittney Garbutt is now pursuing her degree in marine biology at UB.