Coral Conservation Courses
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 Divers a permit to grow corals in underwater nurseries, specifically Staghorn coral.
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 out-planted on the reef.
In the nursery, the fragments 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.
Coral Conservation Courses available at Sunset Divers
Guided Coral Nursery Dive (Discover Reef Renewal)
Join our dive staff on a guided Coral Nursery shore dive and become a Citizen Scientist for the afternoon. Learn about the importance of Coral Nurseries here in Cayman and help maintain our Nursery by monitoring the trees for predators & disease.
$150 per person
PADI Reef Renewal Distinctive Specialty Course
This course consists of classroom session and workshops in order to the correct reef renewal techniques. Followed by 2 open water dives to our nursery for maintenance, surveying, cleaning, removing algae and predators that can damage the corals and affect their growth.
$275 per person
Coral Nursery Maintenance Half Day
Two guided shore dives to assist staff at the coral nursery. Tasks will depend on the work that is being carried out at that rime. Can include maintenance, cleaning, removing predators, conducting surveys, collecting data and restoring reefs. Divers must already be certified with the Reef Renewal specialty course.
$150 per person
Coral Spawning Lecture & Reef Survey Dive
Enjoy an interesting lecture on the coral spawning of our Coral Nursery and then dive the survey area between Sunset House reef and Don Fosters reef. Your guide will point out new coral formations found in this area due to the spawning events.
$150 per person
CoralWatch Distintive Specialty Course
Our unique Sunset House CoralWatch Diver Course is a methodology originally designed in Australia at the University of Queensland to monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef. It has since grown into a globally co-operative network of citizen scientists and volunteers working together to collect real-time data to be used for combating, understanding, and aiming to reverse the negative effects of coral bleaching. This course will introduce budding citizen scientists to the knowledge, dive planning techniques, risk management and gripping enjoyment of completing CoralWatch surveys on the coral reefs encompassing Grand Cayman. The goals of this new course are to refine the student diver’s buoyancy skills, introduce scientific data collection techniques, and finally correlate these together with the input of the gathered data into the CoralWatch global database network. Every survey completed will make a difference in the future of our beautiful coral reefs, and it all starts with you. Course includes a hands-on academic portion introducing the coral health chart which can then be put into action during the two ocean dives with your CoralWatch instructor.
$325 per person
All of the above courses are offered in conjunction with the ECO Divers Reef Foundation.