Eco Divers Reef Foundation 2019 Coral Management Plan

In 2014 we began a journey toward protecting and managing our coral reefs. In 2016 we established our first coral nurseries. The first ever in Grand Cayman. In 2018 we began to return those corals to our local reefs. Join us in 2019 as we expand our coral nursery program and create 14 outplant sites along the Western shore of Grand Cayman.

Eco Divers preparing for a dive.

In 2019, we have expanded our plan to include new species and more coral being returned to the reef.

  • Eight new out plant sites proposed along the Seven Mile Beach area
  • Survey and Finalization of specific areas for outplanting ​
  • The addition of 4 specimens (Genotypes) of Acropora Cervicornis (ACER) These new coral specimens will be added to all existing and future outplant locations.
  • The addition of multiple genotypes of Acropora Palmata (APAL) to our nursery program. These are expected to be an important part of our 2020 outplant program.
  • The creation of a volunteer led fundraising program.
  • A continual examination of our out planted sites for impact on local fish populations. Specifically: Damselfish, Chromis, Grouper and juvenile Wrasses.
Annual storms known as Nor’westers strike Georgetown.

  • Protection from inevitable Nor’Wester and Hurricane activity is critical for a long term program.  ​
  • Predator management to include Damselfish, Fireworms, snails and cilliate predators
  • Coral bleaching and disease management plan.
  • Limit or minimize long term impact of increasing water temperatures.
  • Identify disease resistant corals (Estimated at 6% of original coral population)
  • Monitoring and analysis for further developments to diminish bleaching, diesase, storm damage and predation of local corals.

Coral research shows that the species of Acropora (Staghorn) used in our nursery spawns once per year.  When it spawns, it floats to the surface and waits to bump into another packet of coral gamete to be fertilized.  Finally, it slowly settles back onto the nearby reef.​

This often occurs in less than a two Kilometer range.​

So, we looked at maps of the island and plan all of our sites to be within that two Kilometer range.  The August 29 spawning has spread new coral larvae across the adjacent reef structure.  Within a month or two it should begin to poke up as new, tiny colonies.  By this time next year, those colonies might add to our existing coral genepool by spawning!  Evidence already indicates up to a 400 meter range of spawning settlement for our nursery sites from spawning in 2017.​

And expanding the coral genepool is critical.  Resistance to disease is a major concern in the Caribbean.  Without focusing on reproductive methods of coral restoration, we lose the variety of life that might otherwise be able to resist furure diseases.​

Corals are not returning to the reef in shallow (5-25 ft) water.  This area is no longer friendly to coral life.  We must look at the reef with a compassionate eye, but also without the restraint of nostalgia.   This is subject to change with new species of coral being introduced to our program.​​

Part of the natural life cycle of many islands is the gradual  warming or cooling of the Sea and the appropriate changes in water level.  During the last Ice age,  the Cayman Islands were towering pinnacles of vertical cliffs rising over two hundred feet into the sky.  Corals lived in the waters surrounding the Cayman Islands at that time, the same coral species we see now in our local reefs. 

Corals are able to choose what regions are safe through a rather brutal mechanism. They Die. Put them anywhere that is not suitable and they will die. Corals facing rising water temperatures are left with one option. move to deeper or cooler waters. Corals do not have the luxury of moving themselves to a more suitable area. The water carries them somewhere and then they settle in a single place. They have always relied on gradual changes over long periods of time to allow them to migrate to safe conditions. Human impact on Caribbean water temperatures have changed the environment so rapidly that our corals are unable to settle safely on their own. So, we shall help them

Our plan places our corals into 40-60 foot of water to keep them safe from storms and rising water temperatures. As they spawn, they settle across a broad area. Many are settling between 30 and 60 foot depths, but many should settle into deeper water down the vertical cliffs surrounding the island. These corals that have moved into deep water could very realistically become the last living corals in the Cayman Islands. Our goal is to help these corals reach deep water and survive beyond the destructive changes that we are forcing on them

Head into deeper water.

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