What does Reef Care Curacao Do?
Scientific research: There is still much unknown about the how, what and why of the threats menacing the Coral Reef. Reef Care Curacao wants to organize and support research in this area and to monitor events and developments on the Coral Reef. In January 1993 a group of Reef Care Curacao volunteers repeated a survey from 1978, investigating the abundance and distribution of an organism (Trididemnum solidum) that overgrows corals, killing them. The purpose was to find out if anything had changed since the last time this organism was surveyed, while at the same time providing the participants in this project with more knowledge and insight in the Coral Reef that they might again spread to yet other people.
The finished survey clearly indicated that in fact the numbers of this organism had increased dramatically since 1978, in some cases with an alarming 725%, although it had not spread to new locations. Reef Care Curacao hopes soon to embark on a monitoring program to keep watch on this organism over an extended time.
Since 1993 Reef Care Curacao has collected data during the yearly spectacular mass Coral Spawning event that takes place on three days in September and October. Every year more than 100 volunteers make night dives during this six-day happening and carefully note what corals and other organisms are spawning.
Reef Care Curacao surveyed the damage caused by the passage of tropical storms (1994 Bret and 1999 Lenny). In October/November 1995 the coral bleaching was surveyed which struck heavily that year.
Reef Care Curacao is looking into the effects of the dumping of 400 tons of crude rice on the reef by a freighter that ran aground in 1995.
In 1997 a Coral Reef Monitoring program started to survey the coral cover and diversity of the Curacao Coral Reef. Other research projects relevant to the Coral Reef can also be considered by Reef Care Curacao to be carried out with the help of its volunteer pool.
Raising Public Awareness and Education: People should know more about the Coral Reef. Many are not even aware of the fact that Curacao has such a valuable natural treasure and even less realize the dangers that threaten the Coral Reef and its inhabitants.
In April 1993 Reef Care Curacao organized a symposium about sea turtles, which also marked the start of a project to protect sea turtles in cooperation with WIDECAST (Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery and Conservation Network. In 2002 Reef Care Curacao has been officially appointed Local Representative). A group of volunteers was formed to daily survey a number of potential nesting beaches during the breeding season, for tracks of nesting turtles to establish whether or not turtles were still nesting on Curacao and, if so, to protect such nests. After three seasons of monitoring no nests were found, except by rangers of the National Parks Foundations who monitored a number of remote beaches on the northwestern part of the island. This area is now under the management of the National Park Foundation. Finally a law was passed protecting sea turtles and their nests (AB Curacao 1996, nos. 8 & 13).
Also in April 1993 Reef Care Curacao, together with dive schools, started a snorkel course for underprivileged children, aiming to make our youth aware of the life under water. In six lessons the children are taught the basics of snorkeling and they are shown both the beauty and the deterioration of the coral reef.
Since then, every year Reef Care Curacao organizes 5 courses for ten to twelve year old kids, sponsored the first year by the Maduro & Curiel’s Bank and the years after that by the CITCO. In September 1994, together with sponsor McLaughlin Bank Reef Care Curacao organized a large snorkel relay route for all the children having finished a snorkel course.
In June 1993 Reef Care Curacao organized a seminar about the construction of artificial beaches. Speakers from a variety of disciplines were invited to explain what the impact on the Coral Reef is, what aspects need to be considered especially to prevent damage to a minimum, and what really happens when a beach is constructed. Many other seminars followed and culminated in the 2002 Caribbean Coral Reef Conference.
From February 1993 to February 1997 Reef Care Curacao had a monthly radio program on Radio Hoyer2, in which facts and threats of the Coral Reef were discussed and explained.
Starting in July 1994 and continuing yearly (CDOA took over even monthly) Reef Care Curacao, together with dive schools organizes Underwater Clean-Ups. Five members of the Netherlands Royal Family, including the Crown Prince, participated in 1996. This event, sponsored by Amstel Beer, was a great success and brought the underwater environment to the attention of everyone on the island.
photograph has been made by Dick Keim
Ever since Reef Care Curacao yearly organizes a number of underwater clean-ups with the help of many local sponsors, each year culminating in a large scale clean-up on the International Coastal Clean-Up Day on the third Saturday in September.
To keep all its volunteers, donors and sponsors informed about the developments, projects and underwater life in general, Reef Care Curacao publishes a quarterly newsletter, "Reef Care News", now entering its 11th year of existence. Contributions to the newsletter from anyone concerned about the well being of the Coral Reef are welcomed, either in English, Dutch or Papiamento.
To bring abuses of the Coral Reef to the attention of the public, Reef Care Curacao will publish in the newspapers any irresponsible or indifferent behavior threatening the Coral Reef. Behavior such as anchoring damage, dredging activities, mooring of too large boats on the mooring buoys along the coast, selling of turtle meat, dumping of waste, spearfishing etc.
In July 1996 Reef Care Curacao organized an Underwater Photo Exposition featuring beautiful photographs by 5 underwater photographers, again stimulating public awareness of the Coral Reef of the island.
The Explanatory Memory to the National Regulation “Statutes Nature Conservation and –Protection” (AB Curacao 1999) states that any for commercial reasons pushed disruption of the ecosystem has to be outlawed. Nevertheless a Dolphinarium exists on Curacao since 2000/2001. A dolphin needs the whole ocean because of its sonar. In a basin it is driving a dolphin up to the wall. It seems that Reef Care Curacao lost the struggle, but feels itself obliged to the public good to keep on dedicating to nature and environment (please, see/ Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife Protocol SPAW to the Cartagena Convention).
Reef Care has become a household world in the media.
Direct Protection: Where possible Reef Care Curacao tries to act whenever there is an acute threat to life underwater.
finish nutirent program
Coral Reef Monitoring
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