Bonaire Succeeds in Coral Reef Renewal

(p. 6) Bonaire is a leader in new efforts at reef restoration, along with a nongovernmental organization called Reef Renewal Bonaire, that in just a few years has grown and replanted some 20,000 staghorn corals in the water around the island. Corals are tiny soft creatures that survive on plankton and photosynthesis, and secrete calcium carbonate. They split and clone themselves one by one to eventually form large, curious looking underwater structures — brain coral, staghorn, elkhorn, fan, star and hundreds more shapes, depending on their species.

. . .

Reef Renewal Bonaire is partly financed by local dive shops and it has successfully experimented with underwater “nurseries,” which are treelike and fiberglass, to grow new coral from tiny bits of living coral, to transplantable size. When the baby coral grows to about the size of a basketball, after about six months, volunteers and a few interns again transplant it onto the reef floor. Some 20,000 coral transplantations are thriving on reefs around Bonaire and more are being planted all the time.

. . .

(p. 7) Besides Reef Renewal Bonaire, the Marine Park also rescues and replants corals in the path of any underwater pier or mooring construction. Large transplanted colonies are now thriving in areas away from cruise ship piers. . . .

Ramon de Leon Barrios, a Uruguayan-born oceanographer who ran Bonaire’s Marine Park for 11 years, said Bonaire’s success at maintaining a pristine reef proves that local community efforts can and do make a difference, even in times of environmental degradation.

“I want people to realize that there is hope,” he said.

For the full story, see:

Nina Burleigh. “Nurturing Coral, and the Soul.” The New York Times, Travel Section (Sunday, Feb. 23, 2019): 1 & 6-7.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Feb. 18, 2019, and has the title “Bonaire: Where Coral and Cactus Thrive, and the Sea Soothes the Soul.”)

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