Cole Bay- An unknown incident, more than likely caused by a large vessel, caused significant damage to the Nature Foundation Coral Reef Restoration Program. During inspection dives the two primary coral nursery structures sustained major damage and some coral fragments were affected. Foundation staff replaced the nursery to a safer location and replaced coral fragments at a new location.
The Foundation started to populate its first coral nursery structures again after most of the previous coral nurseries were damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Foundation has slowly started to implement its ‘Fragments of Recovery” coral restoration projects with installing the first coral nurseries in an attempt to repopulate hurricane damaged reefs around the island with rare coral species. “We were very distressed to see that we received such damage to our coral nursery, especially considering that we put so much hard work into getting our corals back up to speed,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.
The Coral Nursery Project in St Maarten used to be part of the 3 year RESCQ project (Restoration of Ecosystem Services and Coral Reef Quality) funded by the European Union Best 2.0 Program. However, due to the effects caused by last year’s Hurricanes the Nature Foundation has had to step out of the project in order to focus on rebuilding and assisting Nature recover on the island; “The team, under the leadership of Melanie our Project Officer, worked hard to replace the nursery so fingers crossed that the coral will hold,. In the meantime we will try to ascertain what caused the damage to our post-Irma Coral Nursery.