As divers we crave the need to explore what lies beneath the waves. The adrenaline rush of discovery keeps us searching, wanting for more. For many, coral reefs and the bounty of marine life they sustain, offer a world of wonder that only we are lucky enough to witness.
Although corals are fascinating to observe, they play a much greater role of helping supplement the delicate biodiversity of the marine world. Made up of clusters of individual polyps, coral colonies provide food and habitat for array of aquatic life, help protect shorelines from erosion, provide food for humans, and support ecotourism jobs.
A 2009 study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), the value of coral ecosystems are worth up to $172 billion US per year to the world economy. Needless to say these tiny organisms have a gigantic impact on our world. But the world population of these valuable, life sustaining ecosystems have taken a toll due to over-fishing, climate change, ocean acidification, and invasive species.
One region that has seen dramatic coral loss (particularly staghorn and elkhorn varieties) over the past three decades is in the Caribbean. Luckily there are organizations, like the Coral Restoration Foundation – Bonaire (CRFB), that have stepped up to the challenge to help reverse this trend in and around their region.
Founded in 2012, CRFB has made it their mission to develop affordable, effective strategies for protecting and restoring the shallow water population of staghorn and elkhorn corals along the coastline of Bonaire and Klein Bonaire. Due, in part to the conservation efforts of CRFB and government agencies, Bonaire boasts some of the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean, attracting divers from all over the world.
“Coral Restoration Foundation – Bonaire maintains 65 underwater nursery trees with a total capacity to grow 8,500 corals,” said Francesca Virdis, CRFB coordinator. To date CRFB has transplanted over 6,000 corals back to to the 8 coral restoration sites.
The NAUI Green Diver Initiative made a $1,000 donation to CRF – Bonaire, helping restore depleted coral populations through their Adopt-a-Coral (ACC) program. “The ACC program started about a year ago and is designed to engage divers and non-divers in coral reef restoration efforts,” said Ms. Virdis. GDI’s donation will support the growth of a 9 sqft coral thicket. Each thicket can take over 8 months to develop in the nursery and will be transplanted onto degraded portions of reef.
NAUI Green Diver Initiative is proud to aid in the restoration of corals in Bonaire. Because of efforts to restore corals, we can begin to reverse the damage these vital ecosystems face everyday.
GDI could not support programs like CRFB without the generosity of donors, like you. To learn more contact Sam Richardson, GDI manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SeaTrek has graduated over 1,800 students of which nearly 70% participated in some aspect of marine science and/or service learning programs.
In 2000 Captains Monk and Kat Daniel, who are also NAUI Course Directors, created SeaTrek BVI – a Summer Camp at Sea – so that young people from across the world could experience scuba, sailing and marine science training along with unmatched opportunities for adventure and personal growth. Set in the crystalline waters of the British Virgin Islands and wider Caribbean, SeaTrek’s 3-week live aboard voyages engage junior high, high school and college-aged students in hands-on learning at every turn.
With their sailing catamarans serving as floating marine science classrooms, SeaTrek has become a leader in experiential marine science education. Staff biologists introduce students to the tropical ecology and wildlife of the islands and their surrounding reefs. SeaTrek's science program provides a variety of interactive, hands-on marine science activities that include sea turtle tagging, coral reef surveying, invasive and indicator species monitoring, reef fish identification and marine conservation. Through their participation, students can earn service learning and/or academic credit.
Since its inception, SeaTrek has graduated over 1,800 students of which nearly 70% participated in some aspect of marine science and/or service learning programs. Seeing this growing interest, SeaTrek expanded its impact in 2011, offering a more in-depth look into the world of a marine biologist.
FATHOMS (Focused Adventure Through Hands On Marine Science) is centered around the integration of marine science, community service and cultural interaction throughout the BVI’s tropical islands and waters. In addition to marine biology and ecology, the curriculum, labs and fieldwork address aspects of marine chemistry, geology and physics, making it a truly interdisciplinary curriculum.
Now in its sixth year, FATHOMS has graduated 75 students with over 40% currently pursuing their education and/or careers in marine science.
New for 2016, SeaTrek announced its latest venture in “Paying It Shoreward” with the creation of a not-for-profit branch called Sea Giving: Give and Sea Change! SeaTrek is currently working on obtaining their 501(c) 3 status so contributions can be tax-deductible. Sea Giving will afford SeaTrek the opportunity to cultivate new scholarships, research, education and outreach efforts, both at home in the U.S. and throughout the Caribbean.
To find out more about Sea Giving or how you can contribute, please contact Capt. Monk Daniel.
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