All about coral restoration diving

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Hey there kids,

I know all of you like the underwater sea creatures and plants just as much as Uncle Richard and I do. In fact, nephew Sweet Cheeks instructed me to write a new book about them last time we were together. I’m hoping very much this blog will suffice and that I’m not in any kind of trouble with him on this point. He is very sweet and I would hate to let him down.

Anyway, as I’m sure the older ones already know, even though the underwater kingdom is beautiful and full of life (like those annoying damselfish that like to attack me) parts of it are threatened. Coral is often key to the health of a reef and in some parts of the world entire reefs are in trouble due to the death of the coral.

Uncle Richard and I saw a reef like that when we went diving in Thailand. It was extremely sad. All the coral was bleached white and just laying in piles. There were barely any colorful fish or turtles around because there was nothing for them to eat. (There were, however, a pair of creepy octopus that were completely awesome!)

As water temperatures in the ocean rise more and more of our coral is in danger. Sunscreens and other pollution from human beings are also part of the problem (so wait a little while after you apply sunscreen to get in the water or, better yet, get your parents to buy reef safe sunscreen).

Some of you are expert snorkelers already but Uncle Richard and I cant wait for the day that all of you become divers too. We want to make sure the reefs are healthy and full of fish for you when that day comes. So we decided to learn how to help grow new corals.

That’s right, we decided to spend part of our vacation learning to work in the underwater coral gardens supported by the Coral Restoration Foundation on Bonaire. Gardening under water is, I must say, just a little bit tricky but also lots of fun.

On day one we learned how the coral is hung on underwater “trees” until it can grow big enough to be transplanted onto the reef. Uncle Richard and I worked as a team to tie cords around the coral pieces and then attach them to the tree. I was better at most of the tasks but he was pretty good at clamping the small metal pieces of the hanger together so I let him focus on that.

On day two we learned how to take the bigger pieces of coral from the trees and attach them to bamboo grids on the reef. You have to get them positioned just right so they have the best chance of growing up big and strong. They like to be close together and without space for too much algae to grow or pests to make little homes. Uncle Richard was admittedly pretty good at this part of the job and he figured out where most of our coral fit onto the grid.

It was hard work and required LOTS of patience. Grandpa would probably be much better at this kind of thing than me or Uncle Richard (if he knew how to dive). Luckily we had a super nice and patient teacher in Esther from Goood Divers and now we are certified coral restoration divers!

We’re looking forward to going back to Bonaire in a few years to see our corals. Some of you may even be diving by then and come with us to check them out and plant new ones. I can’t wait!

XOXO, Auntie K

Ko Haa-11

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