Are you an eager diver, looking to give back to the beautiful underwater world that has given you wonderful experiences?
We at Beyond the Corals are very passionate about protecting the ocean and how to enjoy the fragile underwater world harmlessly. Along with the Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire, we educate people from around the world about how they can help, and use the latest science and research to guide and shape our techniques.
If you’ve ever been diving with us, you will probably have seen our exemplary coral nursery tree hanging in our dive center. In collaboration with the Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire, we have our own coral nursery at Bachelors Beach, which proudly has five trees in it!
Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire is a non-profit and non-governmental organization dedicated to resorting Bonaire’s coral reefs. With the help of 11 partner dive shops (one of those being us) and dedicated volunteers, Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire has been able to outplant over 50,000 corals back to the reef!
As we mentioned, we have five coral nursery trees. These trees have both ‘Staghorn Coral’ and ‘Elkhorn Coral’ fragments growing in them. Staghorn coral is a shallow-water, branching coral that can form massive thickets. This stony coral is one of the fastest-growing corals in the Caribbean and provides shelter to many fish species, especially juveniles. Staghorn coral is at high risk of extinction, threatened by disease, bleaching, and geographic isolation. Elkhorn coral is also a shallow-water branching coral, providing shelter for both mature and juvenile reef fish species. Its strong branches assist in breaking the force of waves. A combination of disease and environmental impacts has caused this coral to significantly decline. Both staghorn and elkhorn corals are critically endangered and without action are at high risk of extinction. You can read more about these corals on the Reef Renewal website.
The staghorn and elkhorn corals fragments are hung and protected in our nursery and given time to grow (while being cleaned weekly). Once corals are reef-ready they can be outplanted back onto the reef on the outplanting site. Reef-ready entails that its size and health allow for it to have a good chance of surviving outside the nursery environment and back on the reef. The outplanting method is dependent on the coral species and reef environment.
The Reef Renewal Discovery Dive offers you the opportunity to learn how to conduct a nursery/restoration site survey and participate in the site maintenance activities such as removing algae and predators, which can damage the corals and affect their growth. However, if you want to become a Reef Renewal Volunteer, the Reef Renewal Diver Distinctive Speciality Course is the one for you. This course includes three training dives and classroom sessions to learn all the techniques involved in the reef restoration process. You will participate in all the activities that need to be carried out in the nurseries and on the restoration sites. Below we have briefly outlined each dive:
Dive 1: Nursery and restoration site maintenance by conducting a survey, cleaning, removing algae and predators, which can damage the corals and aﬀect their growth.
Dive 2: Learn how to prune, tie and tag the coral fragments which will be hung on the nursery trees.
Dive 3: Learn how to outplant mature corals onto the reef to ensure their growth in the actual reef system.
After completion of this course, you will be a qualified diver for the Volunteer Program with the Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire.
Let us know if you are interested in either discovering our coral nursery or becoming a Reef Renewal Volunteer, we would love to welcome you to the Reef Renewal Volunteer community. For those who are already Reef Renewal Volunteers, we would like to thank you for your contribution in protecting our ocean. Contact us if you are interested in joining us for a weekly nursery clean. We provide air tanks for volunteers.