Normally, all coral in the Cayman Islands are completely protected and should never be touched; just a brush over a coral can subject it to significant damage. However, in 2016, four dive operators in the Cayman Islands obtain permits from the Department of Environment (DoE), and have been growing staghorn coral in small nurseries.
This work has begun to lead to clippings from these nursery corals being planted back out on the reef. Over time they will grow and begin to reproduce more coral themselves, but only if the conditions on Cayman’s reefs stay healthy for corals. However, this labour intensive programme is only effective for a few types of coral.
The best thing we can all do for Cayman’s reefs is not to hurt them in the first place. Locally, when boating, do not anchor in coral; when diving or snorkelling, be careful never to touch the reef and when fishing, obey the Marine Park rules, since a healthy fish population is important for a healthy coral reef. Perhaps the biggest threats to coral reefs are overfishing, pollution and climate change, therefore efforts to become sustainable are also important. Anything that individuals or businesses can do to reduce their environmental impact will help Cayman’s coral reefs along with the rest of the planet.
Dive operators that have been growing coral include:
- Cayman EcoDivers
- Ocean Frontiers
- Sunset House
- The Brac SCUBA Shack
- Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI)