Sunset House Coral Nursery
To help replenish wild populations of corals, whether in areas where there has been a vessel grounding or areas where coral populations have declined due to major environmental events such as coral bleaching and winter cold water events, the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment has allowed Sunset House with permits for staff to grow corals in underwater nurseries, specifically Staghorn coral (for now)
Staghorn and elkhorn coral can grow and reproduce through fragmentation: if a branch falls off on the reef and conditions are favorable, it can reattach to the rock and begin to grow a new colony.
We take advantage of this naturally occurring process by growing corals in our offshore underwater nurseries until they are large enough to be outplanted on the reef.
In the nursery, they are attached to PVC and fiberglass trees suspended off the seafloor. The rescued corals are cared for by staff and volunteers who monitor their health and growth and keep algae, encrusting sponges, and tunicates at bay.
There are currently 3 trees, each holding 100 fragments. There is another tree that has nothing on just to the South, which is used as a quarantine tree, should something arise that we need to separate the fragments.