On the 19th of March 2012, the team from Reef Check Malaysia consisting of Sue Yee Chen and Alvin Chelliah arrived at Bubbles Dive Resort to start a coral nursery project on the sand of our House Reef. After the Bubbles and Reef Check team introductions we got straight into assembling the coral nubbin grids. Sue and Alvin briefed everyone on what was involved in the project and the purpose of the project.
Due to the decline in reef health and destruction from unsustainable fishing methods; conservationists around the world are now starting to help rebuild reefs by constructing coral nurseries in a “controlled” environment to put back what we have destroyed.
The team made light work with many people lending hands to attach cables ties through PVC piping to hold 7 coral nubbins per grid, with a total of 60 grids. The youngest members of our team, Kai Jin and Kai Ann were more than happy to assist with this important task to ensure that the nubbins would have a new safe and happy home to flourish. After all the cables ties were in place we continued to construct the outer frame to hold all the pieces together. By the end of the night we had completed the huge task of constructing 15 frames in half the time we were allocated. A great effort and well deserved pat-on-the-back for the Reef Check and Bubbles Team.
The following day we headed out into the sea to place the grids in the carefully selected area that would provide adequate light, protection and nutrients for the corals to thrive. The first task involved taking out large bricks to be used as weights for the grids to ensure that they would not be washed away by tidal flows. We then proceeded to head out with all the grids. Sue and Alvin placed them in pairs followed closely by other members hammering them down into the sand and securing them together with cabled ties. Bricks were then transported (rather awkwardly underwater) to be placed on top of each grid. We were now ready to start securing some of the freshly gathered coral nubbins.
As Sue and Alvin pointed out to the team in the briefing; we had to be careful while handling the nubbins as to not damage them. Especially when securing them in the cable ties that we did not crush them, but also not to have them too lose so that they would fall out. After about a one and a half hour dive and four of us down to our last 30 bar of air, we decided to head back to shore feeling rather ‘chuffed’ with ourselves knowing we had achieved a very large amount of work in a short space of time but more importantly that we were well on our way to helping out of local coral reefs.
Written by: James Mostert Bubbles Instructor