If we are responsible beings, we will understand that it is necessary to do something about it, whether to protect and prevent or to repair the damage.
Being one of the most visited destinations in Colombia, San Andres Island’s wealth and beauty come from the waters surrounding it: the so-called sea of the seven colors. A name inspired by the different tones and contrasts produced from the sunlight hitting over the bottom of sand, corals, and algae. However, many do not realize that the reality underwater is far from being so idyllic, and instead, marine life is in serious danger. This situation is not exclusive to San Andrés and is directly and indirectly caused by human action. If we are responsible beings, we will understand that it is necessary to do something about it, whether to protect and prevent or to repair the damage.
Coral gardening seeks to rehabilitate live coral cover to restore the ecosystem services coral reefs provide to all of us.
For these reasons, when I saw the opportunity to participate in the pilot of the course of coral restoration, soon to be launched by Corales de Paz, I did not hesitate to sign up. The call was small and addressed divers already certified as EcoDivers, so the spots ran out fast. Although it was not in my plans, I managed to organize my time to be available for the two weeks that were required for both the Reef Repair course and the Providencia Reef Check that took place afterward.
The experience was demanding and tested many skills, but it was also very rewarding to see the results and scope of the project. For 5 days we studied and, above all, we practiced the techniques of sowing, gardening, and coral transplantation and we also learned about reef ecology and the different impacts and threats to which they are exposed.
Coral transplantation is the final step of the coral gardening method. Reef Repair Divers will learn how to fix corals permanently with cement. A technique developed in Seychelles by the Reef Rescuers project.
For me, it was very significant to be able to contribute to the maintenance of the nurseries and see the evolution and growth of the planted colonies. However, the most special moment was undoubtedly the transplant dive, since it is when the nursery-grown coral colonies are located in their new home and are left to grow and reproduce in areas where the reef was previously depleted. When doing this is possible to feel the importance and reach of the project.
At the end of this experience, I am very satisfied with the knowledge I gained and the assurance that I have contributed my bit to the reefs and this valuable project. I feel immensely grateful for the people who promote it and made it possible. I hope to continue participating in future expeditions because I feel very fulfilled when I practice diving with purpose!!
By Juliana Rodríguez - Historiadora del arte, Reef Check EcoDiver, Reef Repair Diver, 2 Reef Check expeditions.