Returning to Curaçao Take 4

You know how when you’re just getting into something and you see references to that in every article, newsfeed and blog post? That’s how it’s been this year for me. Coral, coral, coral reefs everywhere. It’s not just my heightened awareness though, this year the light is shining on the serious state of our environment and that definitely includes marine ecosystems.

As soon as travel reopened in 2021 I returned to dive and work again with Reef Renewal Curaçao , an organization that’s been protecting and restoring corals since 2015. I was anxious to see how the past year and a half affected the coral nurseries. During the pandemic there were months without cruise ships, beach going tourists & toxic sunscreens. What effect would that have on the nurseries? Also during the pandemic there were few volunteers to maintain the projects, what effect would that have?

Curiously and with interest I dove in from the shore, following along an undersea rope towards one of the close-in coral nursery sites. I noticed a pair of Flying gurnards, once uncommon in this part of the island, and I saw this mother/daughter pair (nicknamed in my head, Laverne & Shirley), on every dive. I also noticed schools of blue and brown chromis, trumpetfish, spotted trunkfish, green moray eels and even a spotted drumfish hiding in a crevice in one of the coral heads along the rope path.

When I got to the nursery I saw that the ‘trees’ standing tall and the frags (coral speak for fragments) were large – larger than the pieces typically outplanted. Many of the trunks of the trees (actually PVC pipe) were heavily encrusted with stinging Fire corals. I observed lots of coral growth in the nurseries – both desired and invasive. There was work to be done to protect and restore these coral babies and the trees and thickets where they live. Cleaning and outplanting from this nursery would insure that the growing frags contribute to the restoration efforts in Curaçao. The next blogs will include a profiles of volunteers at Reef Renewal Curaçao – locals and divers coming from far away, even landlocked Colorado, to help take care of these corals.

Have you returned to dive to a place you were before the pandemic, and if so, what did you notice in that marine environment? Please respond in the comment section below, thanks!