In 2016, Round Hill Resort & Villas partnered with local marine scientists to begin the Reef Garden project. The project would see the “gardening” of corals – by growing them in a nursery and then planting the matured corals back to the reef. These corals then provide good nursery habitats for baby fish, lobsters and crabs to grow. As the area fills up with fish, any extras move outside of the reef garden area to be caught by local fishermen for sale at our Hanover beaches and markets.
Mr. Weston Bingham, the Reef-Gardener
The Round Hill Reef Garden is kept healthy by Mr. Weston Bingham, the Reef-Gardener. Mr. Bingham is a spear-fisherman from Hanover that has been trained and employed to ensure the Round Hill reef bay maintains the ideal environmental conditions to supervise the progress of the project. In addition to Mr. Bingham’s efforts, the corals are also naturally maintained by the fish, crab and urchin populations which are attracted by the smells and sounds of living coral, bolstered within the project.
The Round Hill Reef Garden’s History
Prior to 1980, the dominant corals of the Caribbean reef were golden branching varieties of the Staghorn-Elkhorn complex (genus Acropora). These often blanketed the bottom with intricately branched thickets; a protective hedge for baby fish and lobsters, keeping the local fishery productive. They also lived in and produced shallowest portions of reef that protected protecting our shores and maintaining beaches through storms. With this profusion of these corals in shallow water, Round Hill’s reefscape was hued in gold.
Starting around 1981, unknown disease swept through these species throughout the Caribbean, with more-than 95% of them reduced to brittle, dead branches to fall in the next storm. This removed the profuse nursery habitats to impact fish abundance, diversity, and availability and fisherman incomes, while also leaving the beaches less protected. It also changed the reefscape from the crisp vibrancy of coral to a more green-brown of the now dominant algae, while these algae hindered any return of coral.
A Brightly Colored Future
To date, the Reef Garden project has seen 4 000 new corals planted. This program is 80% complete which has been impacted by bleaching – which has served as an excellent learning curve for local research and development. The Round Hill house-reef is on-track to be one of the most vibrant snorkeling sites in the region, with the renewed golden hues of living Caribbean reefscape.
The bay is currently a surfing garden which allows visitors to dive in and explore.
Be sure to schedule book a complimentary glass bottom boat tour during your next visit. Our friendly and knowledgeable Water sports will take you on an adventure while you learn more about the Round Hill Reef Garden project and protecting life underwater.
For more information on other Green Initiatives, visit https://www.roundhill.com/green-initiatives-en.html