Local stakeholders have been vigilant in making sure Bonaire’s reefs remain healthy, so why is there concern? The answer is simple: The stressors impacting coral reefs globally affect Bonaire’s reefs too, so the island is planting coral “trees” on its reefs. The coral-planting initiative started when Augusto Montbrun, Buddy Dive operations manager, met Ken Nedimyer of the Coral Restoration Foundation.
In summer 2012, the first coral “nursery” was installed on Buddy Dive’s house reef and off Klein Bonaire, using native staghorn and elkhorn coral of varying DNA strains to ensure the preservation of diversity and to boost spawning rates.
To “plant” the coral garden, volunteers kneel on the sand, assembling small pieces of coral, while others attach prepared buds to PVC and fiberglass “trees” that resemble old-style rooftop TV antennas.
The coral fragments have seen an almost 100 percent survival rate. The rate of growth on Bonaire is among the fastest the foundation has seen in the world, and they expect to see natural spawning in the next year or so.
Buddy Dive offers orientation presentations where divers learn coral-planting techniques and earn a PADI specialty certification in coral restoration.