CoralPalooza in Curacao

If one would ask what type of animal i’d like to be it would definitely be a water creature. The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the surface of our planet. It’s hard to imagine, but about 97 % of the Earth’s water can be found in our oceans. Of the tiny percentage that’s not in the ocean, about two percent is frozen up in glaciers and ice caps.

Being under water is just a feeling of utmost freedom, it is the ONLY place underwater where I can stop my – always fast pacing brain. See I am not someone who can meditate, not my nature ( or at least not yet) however give me a dive set and I automatically go into a meditation state of mind. It relaxes me and nothing in the world matters anymore apart from taking in the oceans beauty.

So when life had thrown me so many curve balls I decided to actually, for once, do something i absolutely love – Becoming a dive instructor. Best years of my life. After giving up the full-time instructor job, I try my utmost best to jump into the whater whenever I can.

This weekend we actually went back to our “old job”. The dive shop we used to work with is taking part in a fantastic project: Coral Restoration. Why? Because the coral reefs have experienced  unprecedented declines since the early 1980’s, and especially the elkhorn and staghorn corals have suffered from this. The numbers in fact are shocking. Due to multiple reasons ( White band disease, Coral bleaching, Sea urchin die-off, white pox disease and weather) these 2 corals have suffered a loss of 98%. Almost facing local extinction in the Caribbean and Florida.

 

coralpalooza

coralpalooza volunteers. Image credit: CRFC

The Coral Restoration program is an initiative of Ken Nedimyer and now has several sister foundations in the Caribbean, USA and south america. The foundation in Curacao was established in 2015.  It being a non profit organisation they always need volunteers. And as it happens.. we like to be underwater. Yesterday was our first time visiting the babies!

As we will be joining them on a regular basis, you will probably read a lot about me gushing of what a great project it is.

How in the world do you regrown Coral? Sounds difficult  but is actually relatively easy with the right amount of care and love.

So in real short – here goes:

First one has to gather corals ( lets call them the seeds), then one creates a nursery and builds trees. These trees provide a healthy environment for the seeds to grow. Once the coral has grown enough you can actually cut of pieces of coral and replant them by either using zip-ties ( tie them to a base) or dual component cement ( yeah it works underwater). Et voila! Cool stuff huh?

nursery

Cleaning, cleaning and more CLEANING. Image credits : CRFC

For the coral to grow to its full potential we need to make sure the nursery is up to par. This means cleaning….lots and lots of cleaning. Mr. fire coral likes to interrupt every so often, thus at least once a month, every single tree needs to be cleaned, getting rid of algae ( corals do not like algae) and fire Coral. Love people, LOVE that’s all they need!

And then the fun stuff begins! Replanting the corals! yesterday we did two dives. During the first dive we mostly spend cleaning the trees ( cleaning 1 tree will take you up to 1 hour and 15 minutes). We also got the opportunity to  replace corals onto an artificial reef using zip-ties.

The second dive we spend solely on replanting staghorn corals using the cement. Between Remco and myself we replanted 10 pieces of corals. We also tagged all the corals of our group before starting the replanting process, after our group leader Jeremiah had cut them off the tree. Obviously the tagging and monitoring the seedlings plus the replanted babies is also a very important part of this project. This is hours and hours of work behind the PC, done by a few members of the foundation.

Remco and me replanting coral

Remco and me replanting coral. Image credit CRFC

Stay tuned for lots more on this very cool project. And remember this is a non-proft organisation so donations are VERY welcome. they also sell Tags and Tshirts and of course all profit goes towards the foundation.

And if your are in the neighborhood or in any of the other countries that have this project – give them a hand!

xoxo maho enroute

As i was very busy cleaning corals i did not take all pictures myself. Thanks to Turtle & Ray and Coral Restoration Foundation Curacao for the images.

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