Blog Archives

Cayman Islands: Coral Nursery Conservation Program

By: Laura Butz The caribbean has already lost 80% of its coral reefs. Grand Cayman Eco Divers in collaboration with the Cayman Islands Department of Environment and local dive establishments are working together to maintain coral nurseries and aid in conservation, sustainability and restoration of Cayman’s coral reefs. The program develops effective strategies for protecting and restoring damaged areas of coral reef with an emphasis on growing Staghorn coral in nurseries.  Coral fragments are grown on structures referred to as coral trees.  These “trees” are made from PVC and fiberglass rods.  The fragments of coral grow into colonies and after significant growth, they are removed from the tree and planted onto damaged coral reef areas to aid in their recovery.  The fragments are proven to provide a sustainable method in maintaining healthy reefs for the long-run. …
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A Bay Full of Hope

By: Geo Cloete Water is still dripping from my partly undressed wetsuit. With my towel comfortably wrapped around my shoulders, I can feel the heat of the African sun warming me up nicely. It’s a stunningly beautiful winter’s day in Cape Town and although there is a crispness to the air, I feel in no rush to leave. As my mind reflects back to the wonders spotted during two incredible dives, I witness the majestic Hottentot Holland mountain range along the Eastern shore of False Bay. The soft shadows of the afternoon sun render the topography of the mountains beautifully. It won’t be long before the sky starts to turn a gradient of light blues and pinks as the sun dips lower to meet the Atlantic Ocean at sunset.…
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Heartache and Hope for Coral Reefs

In 2012 Liz Cunningham witnessed a dramatic coral bleaching event in the Turks and Caicos Islands in less than one week’s time. That month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) documented record-breaking temperature highs for the North Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. This excerpt from Cunningham’s award-winning book, Ocean Country, describes what she saw. By: Liz Cunningham  The boat chugged out into the sleek waters of Grace Bay to a site called Boneyard. Oh, I loved that place!  I sat on the upper deck of the boat and remembered the last time we were there, just the week before. It was a series of deep sand channels, densely populated with finger and staghorn coral. The finger coral were shaped like protruding stubby thumbs and the staghorn coral, like the large antlers of a deer.…
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The Sound of Climate Disruption

By: Michael Stocker  It has been known for quite some time that excessive anthropogenic carbon dioxide is modifying ocean chemistry, increasing acidity, and compromising shell growth in calciferous sea life. The effects of this have been confirmed in sea snails, corals, and oysters, but also in marine phytoplankton – the organisms that provide a significant share of the oxygen we breathe. In these alarming times I don’t want to increase our collective stress levels any more, except to say that turning our backs on this additional cost of a fossil-fueled civilization is not a wise survival strategy. But there is an acoustical component of a warming planet that I’d like to explore. In 2008 researchers determined that changes in ocean chemistry also had an effect on sound propagation – with the concern that noise would not be so readily absorbed by a more acidic ocean.…
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How do you Transform a Shark-Finning Camp into a Nursery for Baby Sharks?

We are proud to partner with the Misool Foundation!  By: Jo Marlow In 2005, explorers and visionaries Marit and Andrew Miners were diving in remote Raja Ampat, Indonesia amongst the richest reefs in the world. Their journey took them to a beach where they discovered an active shark-finning camp. Jarred by the tranquility experienced underwater in contrast to the brutal killing taking place at the surface, they made a pact to protect the exceptional ecosystem from poachers.  The Miners had very little applicable experience, no significant financial backing, limited language skills, and more than a few skeptical and vocal nay-sayers. What they had in abundance was energy, blissful naïveté, a passion for nature, and a steadfast belief in the ability of one small group to manifest change.…
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Ghosts of the Ocean

By: Martin Stelfox, Olive Ridley Project  A growing human population combined with an insatiable appetite for seafood has dramatically increased pressure on fishing communities worldwide. To keep up with the demand for seafood products, fishers around the world are replacing nets made with natural fibers like cotton and coconut to cheaper and stronger materials like plastics. While synthetic materials help fishers meet higher demands, they pose many new threats to marine habitats. The FAO estimates that 640,000 tons of fishing gear is abandoned, lost, and discarded in our oceans annually and has been given the term ‘ghost gear’. The majority of ghost hear is composed of plastic which does not biodegrade and has a much longer lifespan. Fishers are the first to feel the brunt of losing their nets since they are costly to replace.…
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Dive into the World of Sharks with Sharks4Kids

Mission Blue is proud to partner with Sharks4Kids!  By: Jillian Morris Students in Bimini, The Bahamas snorkeling with Caribbean reef sharks (c) Jillian Morris At Sharks4Kids, our goal is to create the next generation of shark advocates through education, outreach and adventure. We take students underwater to see sharks first-hand and combine all three aspects of our program to provide an incredible, eye-opening experience.  We spend a lot of time in the Bahamas which is considered a sanctuary for sharks and the “shark diving capital of the world.” It’s extremely important for local students to see these remarkable animals up close and understand why sharks are valuable not only for the environment, but also the economy. Kids are the future guardians for these animals and making a connection to them is critical for future conservation efforts.…
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Journey to the Sea: Turtles Unite the Choroni + Chuao Hope Spot

To view the article in Spanish, click here.  By: Shilpi Chhotray, Mission Blue Communications Strategist  February marks the beginning of sea turtle nesting season on the Venezuelan coastline. For anyone who has witnessed sea turtle hatchlings find their way to the ocean, you know these little marine creatures are up to an enormous challenge. Not only do they have to conquer several meters of sand to get to the sea without any interference, once they are in the ocean, they are up against the risk of pollution, entanglement from fishing gear, and injury from boat propellers. Sea turtles may have been around since the time of the dinosaurs (110 million years!) but their population is in grave decline. It’s safe to say, sea turtles can use our help. …
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Dodging Disney: Bahamians Seek Science to Save the Egg Island Hope Spot

By: Shilpi Chhotray, Mission Blue Communications Strategist (c) Theo Linn “Tourists from around the world come to see an untouched Bahamas. Meanwhile, the government says that cultivating high-volume, high-impact deals with cruise lines will bring local jobs. In reality few locals are hired to staff the cruise lines’ “private islands” and these fantasy terraforming projects naturally conflict with efforts to promote local, more lucrative eco-tourism. If Egg Island is designated a marine protected area, the community will see pretty quickly that the income-earning opportunities for eco-tourism far outstrip the earning potential of the average cruise port employee.” Theo Linn is an American attorney and resident of Russell Island, the closest community to uninhabited Egg Island. He recently assisted Bahamian colleague, Holly Peel, in a major battle against Disney Cruise Line. …
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Hope Spot on the Brink of Irrevocable Change

Our partner Henley Spiers reflects on his recent trip to the George Town Harbour Hope Spot! By: Henley Spiers A Queen Angelfish hides out in the wreck of the Balboa. (c) Henley Spiers I recently returned from Grand Cayman, home of the George Town Harbour Hope Spot and a place which has long been on my diving bucket list. For tourists, these islands are a stress-free haven of sunny white sand beaches and clear blue waters. Beneath the surface, however, a war is being waged over the future of this tropical paradise. George Town Harbour may be home to some of the most famous and accessible reefs around the island, but a project to build a new cruise ship pier threatens to decimate this underwater ecosystem.…
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