Scientists from the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories, NOAA, visited CEI to install a coral reef nursery on Cape Eleuthera.
Dr. Ian Enochs and Francesca Forrestal, PhD candidate (RSMAS), who is an Island School alum and sits on the CEIS foundation board, made the initial connection between the various institutions that resulted in this exciting opportunity. Dr. Diego Lirman and Stephanie Schopmeyer (RSMAS) have installed and studied staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) nurseries in Florida and throughout the Caribbean and were able to offer their expertise to the research team at CEI, through funding from Counterpart International. Over the course of two days, two nursery trees were set up at a local dive site and wild staghorn fragments were collected from local colonies. These fragments will be left in the nursery to grow and the nursery will hopefully be ready for expansion in the next 6 months. The goal is to be able to outplant these fragments next year and help restore wild populations of staghorn on Eleuthera. Staghorn - a major reef-building coral - has suffered major decline in recent decades and was listed as critically endangered in 2008 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Restoration efforts are critical and the new nursery at CEI will also help raise awareness with all our visitors about the threats facing coral reefs globally. Visitors will be able to snorkel and dive the site and assist with maintenance - we'll keep you updated on how the grow out goes!