Rebuilding Damaged Coral Reefs Is Possible – With Good Leadership & Not Too Much Money

After 12 Years In Power, Government’s Priorities Are Clear

To my father and his peers, one of the worst insults against a man’s judgement was the phrase, “I’ll bet he never changes the oil.”

Another bit of wisdom was the saying, “That be like buying a new bed ‘an the roof still leaking.”

All meaning, of course, that a person of good judgement should maintain what they have and not use their income to buy new toys while their assets deteriorate.

When BFP reader Nick Whittle sent us the following piece on rebuilding our coral reefs, I immediately thought of my father’s and his friends’ distain for fools who neglect to maintain a valuable asset – especially one that brings them income.


Rebuilding Barbados Coral Reefs

With so much of our economy based on tourism, it is about time something was done to protect and rejuvinate the coral reefs which surround our beautiful island for everyone to enjoy, and which also offer some natural protection against extreme weather patterns.

The bad state of our coral reefs was reported at on 21st June 2006 by Richard Fisher in Magazine issue 2557 (link here).

“In the past 30 years, humans have caused more damage to Barbados coral reefs than the reefs had suffered over the previous 220,000

SOMETIMES it’s easy to spot the twist at the end of a tale. Not so with the story of coral reefs across the ages, for here it’s only on the last page that the villain turns up.

“Our results leave little option but to lay the blame on people,” says Jeremy Jackson of the University of California, San Diego, who with John Pandolfi of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, has been studying the fossilised remains of coral reefs off Barbados. Humans have caused more damage in the past 30 years than the reefs have experienced at any time in the last 220,000 years, they say (Ecology Letters, vol 9, p 818).”

Perhaps the Government of Barbados should read “Coral transplants rebuild reefs wrecked in tsunami” in the Sunday Times 15th October 2006. (link here)

Coral Transplants Rebuild Reefs Wrecked In Tsunami

BRITISH divers are helping to develop a fresh way of transplanting coral grown in floating nurseries to restore reefs off the coast of Thailand damaged by the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, writes Michael Sheridan.

The technique requires tiny fragments of coral to be grown in netted cages suspended in the sea, protected from grazing fish and strong currents. This improves the coral’s chances of survival.

The first crop has been transplanted onto badly damaged reefs at Koh Phai, a small island near the resort of Krabi on the west coast. The divers will now apply the method to other reefs off the islands of Phuket and Phi Phi, where thousands of holidaymakers died.

They have also created an artificial reef and may use specially designed concrete cylinders with many crevices to create beds for coral larvae to grow.

The teams adopted this method because they discovered that traditional “coral rehabilitation”, which involved sinking concrete blocks or marine wrecks offshore to allow coral to grow on them, did more harm than good in seas with strong currents, such as the Andaman Sea, and in waters with a high degree of sediment or pollution.

“Some rehabilitation work in the past unwittingly destroyed the reefs, partly due to inadequate knowledge of coral biology,” explained Nalinee Thongtham, the Thai marine biologist who heads the project. “Natural recovery of degraded coral reefs is only possible if coral seeds or coral larvae are still available in the area and environmental factors are right for the coral to regrow.”

… Benefiting from sympathy and attention after the disaster the Thais turned to Israel’s National Institute of Oceanography, which pioneered the new method in the Red Sea.

Six countries, including the UK, are now collaborating on the project. They have employed the local expertise of Andrew Hewett, a Briton who runs a diving school on Phi Phi, and who narrowly escaped the tsunami with his family. Two years on, he is enjoying the task of rebuilding the reefs that attracted many of his customers.

“One project is a floating coral nursery that is home to about 1,100 coral fragments,” he said. “This allows them to grow without additional pressure from predators, since the nursery floats about 16ft off the sea bottom and 16ft from the surface.” Later this month 300 divers will attend one of the largest coral planting dives ever held, to help transplant the coral fragments.

Foreign funding has paid for the creation of an experimental artificial reef, consisting of 100 concrete blocks, each 5ft square. “By using the concrete blocks we help reduce the damage caused by divers to natural reefs,” he explained. “At present our experienced divers are helping to stack the concrete blocks into pyramids underwater.” These blocks will become the home for the coral fragments, now growing in the floating coral nursery.

Although the concrete “reef” is less attractive than a natural one, the divers are confident that it will become an interesting dive site. “Already fish have taken up residence and are watching us as we lift the one-ton blocks into place,” he said…


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Environment, Politics & Corruption, Traveling and Tourism

2 responses to “Rebuilding Damaged Coral Reefs Is Possible – With Good Leadership & Not Too Much Money

  1. Anonymous

    I love Coral Reefs, They Are Super Fantastalistic!! And They Taste Yummy Too! I Help Build Coral Reefs By Killing Fishies And Putting Their Bones Back In The Water! 🙂 My Mother Is Very Pleased That I Help The Invironment!!!
    ~Monica Deveroux

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