Restoring marine life one reef at a time
In the beginning, the foundation, together with the Bonaire National Marine Park and Buddy Dive Resort staff volunteers collected different genetic strains of Staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) and Elkhorn (Acro-pora palmata) coral. These corals were monitored and maintained by the foundation on Bonaire, and formed the base nursery stock that is periodically fragmented to produce new generations of each genetic strain. By collecting a wide array of genetic strains, it ensures that when the foundation plants corals back to the reef, they are also adding to the diversity and resilience of that reef.
As the foundation has grown into an independently operating foundation, it has garnered more support from the local dive community. Besides Buddy Dive Resort – the founding partner – the Foundation is now supported by four other dive operators on the island.
All dive shop members support the foundation’s goal to preserve the existing genetic diversity of Stag-horn and Elkhorn corals, establish a nursery and restoration program designed to restore the shallow reefs and to work with the community to identify and reduce land-based threats. The nurseries and restoration sites maintained by each dive shop are not only used to produce corals and plant them back to the reefs but also to train divers on how to maintain the nurseries and transplant corals.
Thanks to the help of supporting dive operators and volunteers, at any given time, more than 13,000 corals are growing in the nurseries, and since 2013, 20,000 of these nursery-grown corals have been out-planted back onto degraded reefs around the island, called restoration sites.
Recognizing the urgency of the threats facing our reefs, the foundation is evolving. Resilient reefs are complex ecosystems relying on both genetic diversity and a diversity of species.
As Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire becomes Reef Renewal Bonaire, they will keep what works and add new, innovative techniques to give Bonaire’s reefs a helping hand on an ecological scale, focusing on not only genetic diversity but species diversity as well. Restoring Bonaire’s coral reefs to the resilient, healthy ecosystems they used to be will continue to be a community effort.
Dive for a cause! Join the weekly presentation at Buddy Dive Resort and participate in one of the Reef Renewal activities. You will learn all the techniques to restore coral, how to work in a nursery, fragmenting corals and out-planting them to the restoration sites.
The main production nursery is located off of Klein Bonaire, where there is limited public access and minimal disturbance for the growing corals. Another nursery is located on the main island of Bonaire, at Buddy’s Reef, north and south side. These nursery trees, placed at the drop-off depth of 6mt/20ft are not only used to produce corals but also to train Reef Renewal Divers. The Nursery at Buddy’s Reef is accessible to divers from the dock at Buddy Dive Resort.