how it works
VI Reef Response is centered around coral restoration.
Rather than breaking intact healthy corals in the environment, fragments from naturally damaged corals or corals damaged by boat groundings are gathered and used in restoration efforts. The salvaged pieces are attached to underwater pvc "trees" that make up the nurseries. The staghorn (Acropora) coral is a fast growing coral, and native to our environment, it is therefore ideal for this type of restoration effort. Scientists are identifying other types of coral that succeed in this effort and can be added to the nurseries to increase diversity.
Once the pieces have grown sufficiently, they are planted on natural reefs to increase coral cover and diversity. VI Reef Response partners with local dive shops to offer the opportunity for citizen scientists to dive at the coral nurseries and at coral out-plant sites.
Citizen scientists provide the program with the manpower to grow, plant, and monitor large numbers of corals. They assist with the maintenance of the nurseries and the out-planting of corals. They also collect scientific data about the health and growth of coral fragments both while they are in the nurseries and after they are out-planted. The data they collect is used to determine the best practices for growing and out-planting corals and to improve the program’s efficacy.
why do citizen science?
Citizen scientists learn how scientific research is conducted and why it is important. They also learn about coral reef ecology and why coral reefs are valuable to the community. Participants are able to directly contribute to the health and growth of the USVI community by conserving a resource that provides important ecological, economical, and social services for the islands.