Monday, March 5, 2012

Day 5; Removing the last pieces from Cayo Ron's backreef

Cayo Ron 3.1.2012

On Thursday, March 1st, 2012 Atlantis Diving Contractors as well as a few volunteers accompanied the chapter on its last visit to Cayo Ron to remove portions of the boat wreck that still remained in the backreef.  The salvage team managed to cut up the portion of the rudder while volunteers surveyed the area for any last pieces and swam them back to the boat.  The last large piece that we were able to remove was a portion of the engine.  The component is thought to once house the fluids of the boat that ran aground; it weighed about 250 pounds.  The only remnants of the boat wreck still at Cayo Ron are pieces that are completely covered and colonized by soft corals and/or hard corals, and portions of the wreck that are extremely shallow.  The objects that are extremely shallow are portions of the engine that are extremely heavy and may deem infeasible to remove because in doing so the reef is subject to even more stress and damage.  Besides removing the last portions of the boat wreck, volunteers also helped monitor the status of the coral transplants that were removed from the wreckage.  Most of the transplants seem to be doing fine and a few pictures are provided below.  The final monitoring of the coral transplants and the progress of the reef where the large boat hull was removed will be done in early August.     

David and Tom lift-bag a large portion of the engine towards Orca II.  This portion of the engine was discovered adjacent to other main engine components that were extremely shallow and heavy making them infeasible to move. 

Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) is highly abundant along portions of Cayo Ron.  Pictured here is a dense thicket of A. cervicornis in the back reef near the boat wreck site.  Debris from the wreck was once strewn across 3.2 acres of reef and now it is nearly all gone.  Only a few pieces remain buried by sediments and reef rubble or in the extreme shallow section of the reef crest.  The large slabs of fiberglass panels volunteers have removed will allow for more dense thickets of A. cervicornis to colonize and thrive for years to come. 

Cayo Ron is nearly 5 miles from the nearest mangrove coastline so juvenile grunts and snappers like these must have adequate habitat for shelter and food in order to grow and move to other portions of the reef.  A. cervicornis (pictured above) provides the necessary ingredients for reef fish recruitment in portions of Cayo Ron's backreef.     

Atlantic Diving Contractors and a few volunteers helped finish removing the last large portions of the boat wreck that were in the backreef of Cayo Ron.  The only pieces left were those covered by reef rubble and/or sediments, and in extreme shallow portions of the reef. 

Monitoring the coral transplants is just as important as removing the marine debris.  These corals were once growing on portions of the boat hull that were not suitable for growth.  Now, about 30 of them are located along a ridge of the back reef that is close to where the largest portion of the boat hull was once located. 

Pictured 166 days apart, the mustard hill coral (Porities astreoides) has slowly begun to grow on its new home.  

The same coral, just different ways of denoting (#9), show that this brain coral (Diploria strigosa) transplant is doing fine on its new home. 

Contact Wessley Merten at 787-436-8300 or for more information on helping out in this coral reef restoration and marine debris removal effort.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would encourage anyone willing and able to help Wes with cleaning up the reefs in Ricon PR to do so.It was not only a great feeling to help,it's fun and Wes is a great guy!Our family helped while on spring break visiting our son and it was a highlight of the trip.