Resort’s onsite marine educators WiseOceans launch unique method of coral propagation to enhance house reef and eco-education experience for guests
March 26, 2015, Seychelles
Further developing its sustainability and marine ecology efforts, Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, along with its on-site marine education partners WiseOceans, are launching the Petite Anse Reef Restoration Project to protect and nurture 10,000 square metres (100,000 square feet) of limestone reef in the Resort’s horseshoe bay.
Now in its third year of partnership with marine life specialists WiseOceans, Four Seasons Resort Seychelles adds this latest initiative to a portfolio of marine education and conservation projects that have to date included rescuing critically endangered hawksbill turtles, monitoring coral bleaching and coastal erosion, and helping hundreds of Resort guests experience and cherish the natural beauty of the surrounding Indian Ocean.
In the late 1990s, the coral reefs of Seychelles suffered trauma as a result of the atmospheric phenomenon known as El Niño, when the temperature of the surface layers of the sea increased by a couple of degrees above the norm and remained that way for several months, making it intolerable for coral,. This caused what is known as “coral bleaching,” and it resulted in a 16 percent loss of the world’s coral. The reefs of Seychelles have been in recovery ever since, but this project, financed entirely by the Resort’s Corporate Social Responsibility fund, aims to speed up the process using a pioneering new method.
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles and WiseOceans aim to transplant 16,000 coral fragments by June 2017. Small pieces of broken coral, often damaged by natural events such as waves, will be collected from the ocean bed and brought on-land to the Coral Cabana and attached to metal strips. Following this, they will be returned to the sea, to the coral nursery, which comprises coated iron frames that have been established in the bay to allow the corals to grow safely to a more robust size over 9 to 12 months. The coral fragments will then be transplanted to bare areas of the reef where, once secured, they will grow happily into large, healthy coral colonies. This, in turn, will contribute to a healthier ecosystem and provide food and habitat, allowing other species of marine life, such as turtles, to thrive.
Commenting on the launch of the new project, Reef Restoration Project Officer Tania Militello explains: “There are many coral-growing or coral-nursery projects around the world, but this new method we are using here in the Seychelles has been designed specifically for the reef in question. Unlike similar projects in Maldives, for example, this area is not protected by an outer reef barrier and the resulting wave action means that all components of a coral-growing project here must be secured down. Coral fragments grow successfully when they are kept very still, so being extremely secure was a key aspiration when developing this methodology. The transplanted coral fragments will enhance the natural reef, increase the existing coral cover, and continue to thrive without intervention in the coming years.”
General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Seychelles Alex Porteous adds, “The Petite Anse Reef Restoration Project is an exciting addition to the WiseOceans marine conservation and education activities at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, and the first of its kind. We look forward to seeing the results of this work in the bay, as well as the positive impact that learning and taking ownership of reef restoration has on our guests and team.”
Visit the Project website to view the latest news and for updates on coral reef restoration projects around the world or step into the shoes of the Reef Restoration Project Officer through the WiseOceans blog.