If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering. Aldo Leopold, Round River, 1993.
History of the Green Turtle Cay Mooring Buoy Project
Key West's sister city, Green Turtle Cay, located just east of Great Abaco, in the Bahamas, is the site for Reef Relief's first Bahamas project-a cooperative effort with the Green Turtle Cay Foundation, Linton's Cottages-owned by Dr. & Mrs. Brian Lapointe, Cape Air, the Edith & Curtis Munson Foundation, and residents of the island. Green Turtle Cay is home to a coral reef ecosystem comprised of coral reefs, sea grasses and mangroves which fringes much of the coastal areas. The Abaco barrier reef extends from Hole in the Wall on the south end of Abaco Island north past the Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park, Marsh Harbor, and north of Green Turtle Cay to Walker's Cay. The reef is from 37 miles wide and 215 meters deep. Conch and fish are staples of this island community and hawksbill turtles, green turtles, and loggerhead turtles nest on the coastal beaches.
Director of Marine Projects Craig Quirolo trained local divers on Green Turtle Cay to install reef mooring buoys so that boaters and divers have an easy alternative to anchoring on the fragile coral reefs surrounding this beautiful island. The Reef Relief team arrived on the island in November, 1998, and began planning efforts with a community workshop that described the project and solicited input on where the buoys should be installed. Reef Relief's DeeVon Quirolo began an educational effort with a coral reef presentation to the two elementary school classes on the island. The team returned in March to sound the bottom for the buoy locations and begin further studies. The buoys were installed in June.
Reef Relief President Brian Lapointe, research associate with Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, and Craig Quirolo began a video monitoring program for the island with permanent transects from Green Turtle Cay to offshore coral reefs that will enable them to assess conditions and determine the percentage cover of corals, sea grasses, macroalgæ, ocotocorals and sponges. Dr. Lapointe's water quality monitoring program includes taking water samples at these same sites over time and analyzing them for low level nutrient concentrations, chlorophyll a, turbidity and salinity. This baseline will help identify land-based sources of pollution.
Dr. Bill Alevizon, Reef Relief's fisheries expert, proposed selecting the locations for placement of "Reef Balls" that are being generously donated by the Reef Ball Foundation to establish additional coral reef habitat. "Reef Balls" are a unique design by Todd Barber of ph-balanced concrete structures that attract coral growth, fishes and other marine organisms. However, coral coverage was so extensive that the survey indicated no need for such additional structures.
(Click to Enlarge Image)
Photos From Green Turtle Cay Splicing Party and Buoy Installation
Reef Mooring Buoy Chart
Disney Names David Bethell as Conservation Hero
With the help of local conservation organizations, the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund identified Conservation Heroes from five regions around the world. David Lionell Bethell of New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas was nominated by Reef Relief in the Marine category, and was chosen by a panel from Walt Disney World for one of the five global awards. Recognizing that conservation initiatives are only as successful as the people involved with the project; this program was created to support the efforts of local residents.
To honor his work, The Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund is presenting a cash award of $500 for Bethell, and another $500 to be awarded to a community project of his choosing. The award was presented by Disney Cruise Line and Reef Relief on behalf of the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund.
Bethell is Chairman of the New Plymouth Town Council, a founding board member of the Architectural Preservation Foundation, and a Justice of the Peace for all of Abaco. He is a founding board member of the Green Turtle Cay Foundation and is currently its president.
In 1999, Bethell helped Reef Relief to establish a system of reef mooring buoys to protect the coral reefs of Green Turtle Cay from anchor damage. David helped organize a presentation from Reef Relief on the importance of protecting coral reefs, followed by a group discussion as to whether Green Turtle Cay should install mooring buoys. The local fishermen, boaters, and others provided support for the idea and identified reefs that are candidates for the buoys. Bethell helped organize a work party for the volunteers, who spliced lines for the mooring buoys and later organized and hosted a reception to celebrate the new buoy installations, which followed a Reef Relief workshop.
Bethell has helped facilitate the delivery and customs clearance of additional buoys and supplies to Green Turtle Cay for the buoy program, the coral survey and a new program to save storm-damaged corals, a coral nursery at Noname Cay.
With the help of Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Lines Guests, the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund has supported more than 350 conservation projects totalling $7 million. To learn more about the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund, please visit: www.disneywildlifefund.com
Coral Survey & Coral Nursery
Beginning in 1999 through 2008, Craig Quirolo documented the health of coral reefs in Abaco, Bahamas, on a video and slide format. View the images from this multi-year survey. Also, see the images from the Coral Nursery that Reef Relief created after documenting extensive hurricane damage to Green Turtle Cay-area coral reefs.
David Bethell helps launch Buoy Program in 1999; Receives Disney Conservation Hero Award.