Jamaica's coral reefs are slowly recovering, thanks to coral gardeners
Slowly but surely, the coral reefs in Jamaica are making a comeback.
In the 1980s and '90s, Jamaica lost 85 percent of its coral reefs due to hurricanes, overfishing, and water pollution that caused algae and seaweed to take over. Coral sustains one-quarter of all marine species, and as the reefs disappeared in Jamaica, so did the fish.
To revive the reefs, at least 12 organizations have launched "coral nurseries" underwater, where pieces of staghorn coral are tied to suspended ropes, slowly growing until they reach the size of a human hand, The Associated Press reports. Then, those pieces are taken to reefs and tied to rocks, where the limestone skeleton ultimately becomes attached. The groups have had great success restoring sections of different reefs through this process.
Thanks to the hard work of coral gardeners, as well as the volunteers who patrol the nurseries and fish sanctuaries to stop illegal fishing, the reefs are growing and the fish populations are increasing. "When you give nature a chance, she can repair herself," marine biologist Stuart Sandin told AP. "It's not too late."
"Coral reefs are underwater structures composed of reef-building colonial marine invertebrates held together by calcium carbonate. As some of the most ecologically diverse marine environments in the world, these sensitive ecosystems are increasingly under threat from climate change, rising sea temperatures and human activities such as over-fishing, ocean acidification and water pollution.