Monitoring Mangrove Rehabilitation in Bonefish Pond National Park

By: Craig Dahlgren

In July 2013, I worked with The Nature Conservancy and the Bahamas National Trust to lead a mangrove restoration and rehabilitation effort in the Bonefish Pond National Park on New Providence Island. The goal was to take a dead-ending dredged channel within the park that was serving no value as fish habitat, into a mangrove fringed creek that would serve as a nursery habitat to various reef fish species.

Fringing mangrove channel created at Bonefish Pond National Park as a part of the restoration project. Channel was cleared of debris and water flow restored to increase circulation throughout the park. Photo by Agnessa Lundy

Fringing mangrove channel created at Bonefish Pond National Park as a part of the restoration project. Channel was cleared of debris and water flow restored to increase circulation throughout the park. Photo by Agnessa Lundy

To do this, the team  began by excavating the area to promote hydrologic flow through the creek and then conducted experimental red mangrove plantings along the channel.  About half of the mangroves planted were donated by the nursery at Atlantis and plantings were conducted by students and volunteers.  The experimental plantings were aimed at determining the most effective means of planting mangroves in a Bahamian creek system similar to the one in which we were working.

After one year, just under half of the mangroves planted were still alive and many showed significant growth. While just under 50% survival may not seem like a lot, many of those that died were:

  • planted at the high and low tolerance ranges of the species in this system,
  • from freshwater systems and planted to a salt water environment, or
  • ones whose root systems were compromised when they were dug up and not expected to have high survival.

The plantings with the greatest survival and remarkable growth were those planted as propagules or small “seedlings”. Mangroves from the Atlantis nursery averaged 50% survival, with much of the mortality thought to be from root damage when plants were removed from their plastic pots.  Improved handling techniques during plantings may greatly improve these results.

Mangrove island created at Bonefish Pond National Park adjacent to the Mangrove channel. Photo by Agnessa Lundy.

Mangrove island created at Bonefish Pond National Park adjacent to the Mangrove channel. Photo by Agnessa Lundy.

Surviving mangroves appear to be stabilizing the shoreline of the channel, enhancing natural mangrove recruitment rates, and providing habitat for fish.  Prior to the restoration and rehabilitation efforts, the area had no fish.  One year later parts of the area are teemed with small snapper, damselfish and needlefish, barracuda and even bonefish! Further monitoring will continue to document changes in mangrove and fish communities as part of this project.

Establishing a coral nursery in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park

By: Felicity Burrows, TNC

With funding from the Atlantis Blue Project, Dr. Craig Dahlgren (research consultant), Krista Sherman (The Bahamas National Trust) and Felicity Burrows (The Nature Conservancy) worked together to establish a coral nursery in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP). The team stayed in Staniel Cay and travelled back and forth to the ECLSP. Craig and team members collected throughout the Exumas, Acropora coral fragments that were broken off and resting on the seafloor. Dr. Dahlgren observed very low populations of Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) at sites that were assessed 10-15 years ago when populations were abundant.  This confirmed the need to restore Staghorn populations at suitable restoration sites. However other species of Acropora such as Elkhorn (A. palmata) and A. prolifera were also collected.

The team scouted appropriate sites to set up the coral nursery and, assembled mooring lines and buoys using heavy duty anchor screws. The site selected to establish the coral nursery is near Waderick Wells. Mooring buoys were then transported and deployed at the coral nursery site that was identified.

The type of nursery used consists of monofilament lines and, is referred to as a “line nursery”. Krista and Felicity were responsible for assembling the lines needed to support the coral fragments. This involved cutting monofilament lines in 10m length and separating sections on the line by crimps, 25cm apart. Clips were also prepared and thin lines were placed at the end of each clip to support individual fragments. Color codes using beads were used to identify type, location collected, parent colony, etc. At least 2-3 coral fragments were placed between each 10cm mark along the monofilament line. In total there were 7 lines that were assembled.

Coral fragments that were collected were then cut in sizes between 3-5cm and placed in coolers filled with salt water until placed in the nursery (Photo 1).

The lines that were prepared to support the fragments were then installed at the selected coral nursery site. The total water depth in which the nursery was set up is 50feet. The depth in which the lines are floating within the water column however is approximately 25feet. The buoys that support the monofilament lines were placed approximately 10 feet below the surface of the water.

Coral fragments were then placed on the monofilament lines (Photo 2).

Photo 2. Craig Dahlgren, placing coral fragnments on monofilament lines. Photo taken by Krista Sherman, the Bahamas National Trust.

Photo 2. Craig Dahlgren, placing coral fragnments on monofilament lines. Photo taken by Krista Sherman, the Bahamas National Trust.

 

Overall there were 66 pieces of Elkhorn, 72 pieces of Staghorn and 38 pieces of A. prolifera placed within the line nursery.

Stay tune as we monitor the coral nursery progress….

We Don’t See Borders — We Just See Blue

Written By Lynne Zeitlin Hale, Director, Global Marine Initiative for The Nature Conservancy

 

Earth from space: our water world. (Courtesy NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

Earth from space: our water world. (Courtesy NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

 “When you look at the planet from space you don’t see borders – you see blue.”

Secretary John Kerry opened the Our Ocean Conference 2014 at the US Department of State with this comment – setting a tone of shared responsibility. Beyond borders, he continued, we share nothing so completely as our ocean.

Surrounded by heads of state, finance and environmental ministers, philanthropists, scientists and at least one movie star… we discussed threats to our ocean, but more importantly the global community made multiple commitments for action.

President Obama joined via video message announcing two significant actions: first, to create the world’s largest ocean preserve by expanding our national marine monument in the Pacific; and a to create a task force with a six-month deadline to develop recommendations to combat seafood fraud and illegal fishing.

Leonardo DiCaprio joined us kicking off day two by announcing a $7 million commitment from his foundation and added his celebrity to the State Department hosted conference — creating quite a buzz on social media (#OurOcean2014).

Leonardo DiCaprio delivers remarks at the 2014 “Our Ocean” Conference at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 2014. (Courtesy U.S. State Department)

Leonardo DiCaprio delivers remarks at the 2014 “Our Ocean” Conference at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 2014. (Courtesy U.S. State Department)

Kenred Dorsett, Minister from the Bahamas, announced new commitments to marine protected areas for his country and funding for the Caribbean Challenge Initiative  that will help the Bahamas protect their ocean, and the livelihoods of those who depend on it.

USAID committed $1.5 million for a multi-donor trust fund for the oceans via the World Bank-sponsored Global Partnership for Oceans.

And the Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration joined with new and stronger commitments of their own to tackle marine debris, fisheries management and ocean acidification.

For my organization’s part, we are thrilled to see the President’s commitment and those of other countries and agencies and we announced a commitment of our own: The Nature Conservancy will work in partnership to map the economic and spatial value of the oceans’ natural systems in five major seascapes.

We see huge opportunity in figuring out the true value to societies of the coral reefs, oyster reefs, mangroves, seagrass, sand dunes and other natural marine systems and where they are distributed. We cannot do this alone and are working with many agencies, universities and organizations including the Global Partnership for Oceans to build on existing science and address any gaps in information. Our goal is to translate ecosystems science into language that policy makers, engineers and community planners can use – so we all make smarter development decisions.

For the hundreds of millions who depend on and care about the ocean, we know that the challenges our oceans face are right here, right now. And, the world is behind schedule on pivoting from “challenge” to “solution” – but the $1.8 billion in total commitments made at Our Ocean conference is a meaningful down payment.

Our Ocean Action Plan

Our Ocean Initiatives

White House Fact Sheet

Taken from: http://blog.nature.org/conservancy/2014/06/18/we-dont-see-borders-we-just-see-blue/

Dive into the new Coral Nursery Restoration Course!

by Eddy Raphael, TNC

The Nature Conservancy developed a new scuba diving course to be implemented at Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas named the ‘Coral Nursery Restoration’ course.

In the southwest corner of New Providence lies a large coral nursery which hosts 3750 coral fragments of Staghorn coral [Acropora cervicornis]. The nursery has recently been expanded and is expected to reach 100 CPUs [Coral Propagation Units] hosting 5000 fragments. The Conservancy’s coral nursery coordinator, Eddy Raphael, assigned to manage the growing population of The Bahamas coral nurseries, warmly welcomes volunteer divers, as the challenge of monthly coral maintenance can be arduous.

Instructor training in the classroom – photo Elison Gomez

The first distinctive specialty of its kind in The Bahamas, it was decided to offer the course as an exciting pilot incentive and outreach to local divers, visitors, and young Bahamians to get certified and learn about coral conservation and also to generate a volunteer base of coral nursery divers. Discussions are proposed with The College of The Bahamas and relevant Marine Science classes to incorporate the course into the school curriculum.  

 

 

 

In December 2013, four Stuart Cove instructors were put through the instructor-training course by Lisa Kirkley of The Conservancy, comprising classroom, diving, and teaching skills, and underwater experience cleaning and monitoring of the coral nursery’s coral fragments and their propagation units. This distinctive specialty will be offered as part of Stuart Cove’s diving education program. Hayley Jo Carr, head of training, will be responsible for heading the training, monitoring, and coral cleaning dives. Students learn about Coral Identification, Biology and Reproduction, coral diseases, and the importance of coral reefs.

Diver measuring coral growth - photo Elison Gomez

Diver measuring coral growth – photo Elison Gomez

Once the course is successfully completed, trained coral restoration divers are enlisted as volunteers to assist with maintenance of the nursery and outreach efforts on a regular basis. Additionally these volunteers will be able to help with maintenance, monitoring, and basic repairs to broken CPU’s and engage other local divers and visitors to actively participate in coral conservation efforts.

The course has been duly approved by PADI, and is due to launch on June 28th 2014, with scheduled subsequent monthly dives [the first Saturday of every month] to the nurseries to perform cleanings, monitoring, and coral health assessment.

Hayley Jo Carr, Head of Training at Stuart Cove – photo Elison Gomez

Hayley Jo Carr, Head of Training at Stuart Cove – photo Elison Gomez

During this time, The Conservancy successfully initiated a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas that has galvanized a shared partnership to advance coral restoration initiatives on New Providence. This includes facilitating the PADI approved ‘Coral Nursery Restoration Course’ for interested certified SCUBA divers.

For more COURSE DETAILS please visit – http://www.stuartcove.com/DiveBahamasMgmt.aspx?id=2&pageId=1027

 

Working towards Climate-Smart Disaster Management

by Gayle Drakes,  Education and Training Specialist, CDEMA

On June 3rd  and 4th “The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, with the support of the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Coordinating Unit,  conducted a 2-day workshop aimed at enhancing the Bahamas Climate-Smart Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Country Work Programme. The Conservancy participated in this workshop. The objective of the workshop was to create a final set of indicators and targets that will be used to monitor the success of the CDM Country Work Programme as it is implemented.

The five-year Bahamas Climate-Smart Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Country Work Programme was developed in September 2013 through a participatory consultation of representatives from a number of public and private sector agencies. The work programme outlines the approach and activities that the Bahamas will undertake over the next five years to reduce risk and build resilience, taking into account issues related to disaster management, climate change and gender.”

Many thanks to the Nature Conservancy for its very helpful contributions to the workshop, particularly in streamlining Outcome 8 – which relates to enhancing terrestrial and marine ecosystems’ resilience to climate change to ensure future food security for the Bahamian population.