Coral Care and Reef Mapping Dominican RepublicJanuary 5 2018
Off the Caribbean Coast of the Dominican Republic lays kilometers of Coral Reef, this area is a desired locations for many scuba divers from abroad. In our area coral bleaching has become a concern, local reefs are monitored by FUNDEMAR an many local volunteers who spend countless hours in the water collecting data in many varieties such as coral spawning, coral transplantation sites, growth rates, bleaching rates, coral garden growth, lion fish counts, fire worm counts etc....
My mission is to map and collect exact reef topographies from Rio Chavon, Dom. Rep to Saona Island, Dom. Rep. once reef topographies are obtained we can narrow our data collection to specific areas of concern or interests and continue gathering the information and data needed to help protects and maintains the local environment. In order to help more we need to expand our area, as humans we can only stay under water so long and gather small amounts of data focusing on one area of information at a time. We are determining a way to minimize the amount of man hours in the water and increase the amount of data collected in a single occurrence allowing faster data collection and faster turn over time to being the healing process of our beautiful sea around the Caribbean Coast of the Dominican Republic. Mapping data will allow us to build a 3D model of the under water terrain and give ourselves and others we share the data with a true rendering of the area, allowing for safer dives to be conducted, target areas easily identified for unique data collection, etc.
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Upon our latest meeting our Coral Care and Reef Mapping project now has the full support of Fundemar YIPEE!!!
With this collaboration official I was able to create some data that details the common areas of interest for both the local dive shop and Fundemar. Fundemar provided locations of all its current areas of interest, the local dive shop also provided dive site locations they are interested in having mapped with the accuracy and details I am able to provide.
Below are mocked up maps of the 3 different locations maps, with the common interests map being the primary focus for this first stage of the mapping process
Currently we are analyzing the best ways to obtains the data needs at the accuracy level wanted and planning specifically the step by step mapping process. We have a 2 man team for mapping consisting of 2 diving instructors, one with a diploma in Geographical Information Systems. These 2 individuals will work closely with the volunteers of FUNDEMAR, to help FUNDEMAR collect more data for the coral care as the mapping project occurs simultaneously.
Many hand drawn maps of local dive site have been created however nothing is available with the amount of accuracy and details needed. This project is still in the planning stages and has yet to physically begin.
Personal Background - Courtney Cicoria
Working in professional diving since 2011, currently PADI Specialty Instructor, TDI Full Cave Diver and Technical Diver, Diploma in Geographical Information Systems. In collaborations with a local dive center here in Bayahibe, the original idea is to create detailed 3D dive site maps for the local area and working with our local NGO to help us and help them with both our on going expeditions. Making our Coral Reefs healthier, happier and trying saving the local ecosystem
In my early teens and 20’s I had a career in the Oil and Gas sector in Canada mainly working in the Geomatics field designing many large scale projects. At the age of 26 I put my career on hold and set off on a new path, always having a passion for the ocean and seeking a new way to merge my love for it and my current career, some say I went from zero to hero. After finding diving in Thailand, following my very first open water dive I knew I found my path, within 6 months I was Divemaster and a PADI Tec 50 diver. As the years past many more certification came including my TDI Full Cave and leading me to where I am now. My personal passion is Caving Diving and Technical Diving as I aim for new levels I bring my experiences and outstanding training into all my work. My main focus, given my training background, is safety, safety, safety teaching people properly the first time. My students learn to not only appreciate our aquatic world but excel in all future endeavors.
SUMMARY REEF RESTORATION PROGRAM - The Dominican Foundation of Marine Studies, started the evaluation of the health of reefs in 2006, but it isn’t until 2011 when it strengthens and starts the reef restoration project. The program begins with funding from USAID-TNC (2011-2013), and the support of the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation, who, to date, FUNDEMAR still maintains a collaboration agreement with.
Even after the completion of the USAID_TNC project, the program continues to expand and growing daily thanks to the strategic partnerships established with the tourism sector, and surrounding communities.
All hotels that are part of the Romana-Bayahibe Hotel association as well as their respective dive centers, have their own nursery, or are in the process of building it. Hotels and dive centers actively support the FUNDEMAR coral restoration project, as well as the Small Grants program (PPS) (2015-2016), and the Brugal Prize fund. With this aid, FUNDEMAR has been able to expand the number of coral gardens they manage from 2 to 8, with more than 60 structures in total; thus, increasing the number of coral fragments in the nurseries. Currently, there are about 3000m of coral growing on our coral nurseries and transplant areas.
The program's success lies in its long term maintenance, and its integration within the program of coral reef conservation that is kept by FUNDEMAR, which is composed of several components, such as.
Community Integration and continuous training: all these actions are accompanied by ongoing training to employees of the dive centers, and a team of five young individuals from the community of Bayahibe, responsible for carrying out periodic maintenance to nurseries and transplant areas.
Community Campaigns: As part of the program, several parallel awareness activities are held throughout the year, which is highlighted by the annual environmental agenda held jointly with the Association of Hotels and Tourism Cluster La Romana-Bayahibe and the lionfish Fishing Tournament. In 2016, the fifth edition of the tournament will be held, with an average catch of 500 lionfish per event, and the participation of over 40 fishermem/divers.
AGRRA Monitoring: Since 2011, the monitoring of reef conditions is performed (AGRRA ) in 3 key reefs of the area. In 2015 the number of stations (monitored reefs), went from having 3 stations to 10 stations, with the aim of having a greater representation of the reefs in the southeast region of the island.
Development of nurseries and transplant area, ensuring, through research, their functionality (Annex 1 location and map): one of the major success of the program was recorded on September 5, 2015 and August 24, where it was observed and recorded for the first time in the Dominican Republic the mass coral spawning of Acropora cervicornis in the FUNDEMAR nursery (see images). The process involved the collection of gametes, assisted fertilization and breeding of embryos, larvae and recruits. Reproduced coral polyps are currently in the FUNDEMAR nursery growing successfully
This year, FUNDEMAR will continue the restoration program, and continue to work on it’s research on the sexual reproduction of corals growing in nurseries, by developing improved techniques for breeding and maintenance of embryos, larvae and coral off springs. In addition, FUNDEMAR, will train the local dive centers to take part in this research and expand its reach. It is important to not that, the success of the program lies in the strategic alliance with the hotel industry and surrounding communities, combined with the technical
assistance of the FUNDEMAR researchers. Coral nurseries are part of a more extensive reef conservation program, and it is necessary to have all parts in check: assessment of reef condition, nurseries, and transplant areas, as well as research and ongoing training to achieve a significant impact on conservation of future reefs. We have our coral reef conservation video available at: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evALlM9NbTo)) For more information we have our website: (http://www.fundemardr.org)) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FUNDEMAR /?fref=ts)