A history of survival: revisiting Jamaica research sites

by Clint Edwards, PhD Student

In November 2016, the 100 Island Challenge team visited the north coast of Jamaica to work with teams from the Alligator Head Foundation and Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory, University of the West Indies, Mona. While there are still many pressing threats to Jamaican coral reefs, we were excited to find reefs in various stages of recovery with occasionally abundant sea urchin and coral populations including endangered species of Acropora and Dendrogya. The capacity of Jamaica’s reefs to recover despite decades of decline provides hope for future restoration efforts. Working with Fabian Kyne and Denise Henry from the Alligator Head Foundation, Dr. Dayne Buddo, Dr. Suzanne Plamer, Marcia Creary-Fordand Camilo Trench from The University of the West Indies, Mona, and Inilek Wilmont from the Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary, we found an engaging community of passionate scientists and dedicated resource managers. The active collaboration and involvement across stakeholders including the local fishing community, foundations and coral restoration projects represent the hands-on, ground-up strategies that we believe has generated the success evident in Jamaica. During our visit to Jamaica, we also relocated and imaged a historical research site which was surveyed from 1976 until 1986 by Dr. James Porter in Discovery Bay. Despite major losses to reefs in this area in the 1980s several large corals present in the original imagery are still alive and thriving today along with many other recently settled juvenile corals (including the endangered Acropora and Dendrogyra). We are currently working on a report to share the stories of hope and success that we found in Alligator Head and Discovery Bay with the rest of the world. In the coming years, we hope to build on this work and foster a strategic partnership with the Alligator Head Foundation and Discovery Bay Marine Lab to use our technology and resources to help make Jamaica a focal case-study of the successful protection, restoration and recovery of our natural resources.

Please find videos from 3D models collected during our trip to Alligator Head and Discovery Bay here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLv2P7IBIe9qO6GO03PfRLyZFieI9gNDi_

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