Grand Cayman, April 1— The Cayman Islands Department of Environment (DoE), and Vulcan Inc., on behalf of Paul G. Allen, the owner of the M/Y Tatoosh, have announced completion of a jointly administered emergency restoration plan to help speed recovery of injured coral in the West Bay Replenishment Zone.
Members of the Polaris team, that had been secured to implement the plan by Vulcan, conducted remediation work over 24 days, totaling approximately 300 man hours. During this time, the team reattached approximately 1,600 benthic organisms including:
· 429 hard corals over 20 centimeters in diameter
· 955 hard corals less than 20 centimeters in diameter.
· 208 soft corals and sponges
More than 30 tons of cement and sand, along with eight tons of rubble, were used to rebuild and restabilize the impacted area. Work was completed on 28 March under the oversight of Dr. Harold Hudson, formerly of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a world leader in restoration of coral habitats, who advised and assisted Polaris in their efforts.
“The reef remediation by Polaris Applied Sciences was an experienced-based approach to help minimize the damage and improve the likelihood of coral recovery in the area," said Dr. Hudson. "The swift implementation of this plan provides the greatest chance for recovery of the affected area and I commend both Vulcan and the DoE for their efforts to help ensure its rapid completion.”
In addition, the DOE hired Mr William Precht, a coral restoration expert with Dial Cordy and Associates, Inc. in Miami, FL, to assist with project oversight and assessment as well as to undertake the long-term monitoring of the restored site to evaluate the efficacy of the restoration effort performed by Polaris in the months and years following completion. The DOE and Mr Precht have inspected the site and are satisfied that the project was performed to the agreed specifications.
The completion of the plan included the following actions:
1. Triage the affected corals: Uprighting, uncovering, securing and moving viable corals to safe locations, while work to stabilize the reef structure was completed.
2. Stabilizing and removing larger rubble accumulations, to prevent continued and future damage to nearby living and established resources from the impacts of rubble movement; and incorporating the rubble onsite, to recreate and retain the original reef structure.
3. Recreating the lost structure, and reducing any unnatural appearance of scraping or scarring.
4. Rescuing and reattaching living coral and other live biota as practicable, to reduce the time for a full site natural recovery and to restore ecosystem services.
The DoE and Paul G. Allen are deeply committed to ocean health and conservation. Both the DoE and Vulcan have worked hard to ensure that the implementation of this plan reflects the best international standards for restoration of coral habitats and are pleased by the completion of the work and the joint partnership that made it possible.