In 1997, Reef Relief's Craig and DeeVon Quirolo, in cooperation with the Guanaja Tourism Association, installed 36 reef mooring buoys to protect the fragile coral reefs surrounding the island of Guanaja, a popular dive destination off the coast of Honduras. See educational chart of buoy locations and reef tips that educate divers to the reefs.
Guanaja, Bay Islands, Honduras Reef Mooring Buoy Project
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.
The Guanaja Tourism Association approved the expenditure of visitor impact fee funds to install 30 permanent reef mooring buoys at Guanaja's coral reef earlier this year. Thanks to the dedication of Project Coordinator Sandra Bazley and a host of volunteers and contributors to the project, reef mooring buoys are now available at most popular dive sites at this small island off the coast of Honduras.
"Buoys eliminate the need to drop anchors on our fragile coral reefs," noted project manager Sandra Bazley. The community pulled together to make this happen We can all be proud of our efforts; this will protect our reefs now and into the future.
Corals are actually living animals, encased in a calcerous exoskeleton. The drop of an anchor can damage the slow-growing animals, called coral polyps, and open the entire coral head to disease. Corals have been in existence for over 400 million years and are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on earth, rivaled only by the tropical rainforests on land.
Guanaja's coral reefs, together with mangroves and sea grasses, comprise the coral reef ecosystem, the basis for the island's fishing and tourism economy. Keeping the reef healthy and alive is a priority for everyone on the island.
The creation of the Guanaja Marine Reserve is moving forward with this mooring project being the first in a series of planned strategies for marine conservation.
The installation of the buoys was a community event, with volunteer divers providing assistance and local resorts and other businesses donating boats, fuel, lodging, meals, and supplies. REEF RELIEF was commissioned to direct the project and provide the necessary equipment and training.
"I am very pleased to see the Guanaja Tourist Association take such an active role in coral reef protection," commented REEF RELIEF Founder and Director of Marine Projects, Craig Quirolo. Craig headed up the project with assistance from Program Director, DeeVon Quirolo.
Local Coordination was provided be Sandra Bazley. The components were ordered and shipped to Guanaja via Deep Reef Trading on the Caribbean Star. Everything was stored at Posada Del Sol, where a boat and divers were provided.
Two types of permanent moorings were installed. First the mantas, anchor-like assemblies with a long rod, were jack hammered into areas of rubble bottom to which the line and float was attached. Next stainless steel U-bolts were installed in areas of hard fossilized bottom.
A hydraulic drill was used to core out two holes and the stainless steel U-bolt was cemented to the ocean bottom. After allowing the cement to cure for a few days, the buoy down line, float, through-line and picket line was attached. The float is accomplished by slicing the individual parts together in a manner that permits parts of it to be replaced as they wear out.
The REEF RELIEF representatives were presented from Savanna Bight and from professor Ruth's Bay Islands Conservation Association Youth program with a presentation on the coral reef and then they learned hoe to splice and prepare buoy lines for the project.
Students who had been certified to dive compliments of Posada del Sol assisted in the drilling operations at the reef. The project also involved special presentations of the crew and guests at Bayman Bay Resort and to a room full of citizens in Savannah Bight, during which Professor Ruth of B.I.C.A. translated the presentations into Spanish.
Professor Ruth will also be responsible for handling the video library that REEF RELIEF brought for the community. They are on a variety of reef-related topics.
The mooring buoys require a regular inspection and maintenance program to keep them in good working order. The dive operations of Bayman Bay Resort on the north side and Posada Del Sol Resort on the south side of the island have agreed to share this responsibility. Lost or damaged buoys will be reported to them for immediate replacement. Since the buoys are community property, stealing them is a municipal offense, punishable by fine.
REEF RELIEF has agreed to set up a buoy fund to purchase buoy components, when needed. Contributions to the buoy fund are tax-deductible for United States contributors. You can sponsor a buoy for $500 U.S. Additional expenses have resulted from the need to order more mantas than originally anticipated and standby buoys and line are needed. Contact the Guanaja marine reserve c/o (504) 54 44 43 or REEF RELIEF at (305) 294-3100 Or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The permanent buoys replace the "chokers" that were previously used. An English/Spanish informational map/brochure containing information on the buoys, their location, the Guanaja Marine Reserve, the coral reef ecosystem, and tips for reef friendly diving, boating and living is being prepared for distribution to all residents and visitors.
The Guanaja Tourism Association extends special thanks to the following for making this project possible: Sandra Bazley, Craig and DeeVon Quirolo of REEF RELIEF, Julian and Sandra Rensch, The Honduran Institute of Tourism, the staff and management of Posada Del Sol and Bayman Island Resorts. Deep Reef trading - Caribbean Star, roger wood, Kevin McLain, Greg Park, Jim & Cathy Springer, Bo Bush, Dick Munroe, Ruth Humphrey-Taylor and the B.I.C.A Young People's Program, Yovanny Bacca, Chris Calovini, the students from Savannah Bight, Truman Tatum, Raymond Diez Zapata and Sons. We couldn't have done it without you!