Coral reefs are diverse coastal-marine ecosystems that provide several services. It is estimated that coral reefs, which cover no more than 0.1 percent of the planet, are home to 25 percent of the world’s fish species. In some areas, such as The Bahamas, fish caught on coral reefs are the main source of protein and are responsible for shaping the landscape that fuels the Bahamian tourism industry, providing around 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Unfortunately, Bahamian reefs, much like most coral reefs worldwide, are deteriorating due to natural and anthropogenic stressors. As the ecosystem services provided by these coral reefs are compromised, the livelihoods of many Bahamians are directly affected.
Coral restoration, defined at “the process of assisting the recovery of coral reefs,” is an active intervention strategy that aims to improve the state of the reef habitat and resilience of coral reef ecosystems. This strategy is the core goal of The Bahamas Coral Innovation Hub, a collaborative project the Cape Eleuthera Institute has with The Nature Conservancy, Perry Institute for Marine Science, SECORE International and the Shedd Aquarium.
The Hub aims to employ a combination of established and novel technologies to upscale coral reef restoration in the region. To accomplish this goal, two main approaches for coral brooding are going to be employed: coral microfragmentation and larval propagation. Additionally, the project has been actively working and collaborating with Island School Outreach and The Island School’s educational programs.
The Bahamas has committed to conserving 20 percent of the nearshore marine environment by 2020. These efforts will help reduce local stressors. However, active coral restoration is still necessary to improve coral reef health and ensure the continuation of coral reef services. The Bahamas Coral Innovation Hub will be at the center of the restoration of Bahamian reefs by implementing not only commonly used restoration techniques such as nursery-reared coral fragments and larval propagation, but by conducting cutting edge scientific research.
Outreach and educational programs will be an integral part of the project, frames within the mission of the Cape Eleuthera Island School mission and the goals of our institution.
For more information, contact Valeria Pizarro.