The Late Friday News, 136th
Dear Friends, April 24, 04
This is the 136th Edition of the Late
Friday News brought to you after a brief hiatus while this editor visited
in S. America.
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Late Friday News Archive
Contents for LATE FRIDAY
NEWS, 136th Edition
Article from the Antigua Sun:
After 50 years, SDC slated to enhance Maiden Island
April 20 2004 by Desmond V. Nicholson
Maiden Island is one of the
many islands that
make up the North Sound group of small islands off
the north coast of Antigua. It is located just south of Long Island, on
which the Jumby Bay resort has been created.
Maiden Island is a long
narrow island about 1"æ of a mile long by about "æ of a mile wide at one
During World War II, a deep channel was dredged along the southwest
side of Maiden Island to allow ships to pass to Crabbs peninsula, where a
naval base was built.
Unfortunately, the island's natural environment
was destroyed when the coarse shell and sand dredgings were dumped on it.
Further, the reef that had since grown was destroyed by Hurricane Luis in
Now, 50 years later, a few buildings and a
general enhancement of
the island are slated by the Stanford Development Company (SDC). The
company has removed all the dredged sand and coarse shell and will recover
the shoreline with natural beach sand. A breakwater artificial reef has
been created and was specifically engineered to lower the wave energy in
the beach area, so that the new natural sand will remain stable. Stable
sand means clearer water, which is healthier for the coral.
SDC has created the world's largest artificial
reef system off Maiden
Island, from over 1,000 designed reef modules.
Constructed in just two months and planted with live corals during the
same period, this reef system is an integral part of the development plan
for the island. The coral reef breakwater was created by using
specially designed Reef Balls"¢ which are
modules designed to mimic natural reefs.
These round-reef modules are hollow inside, with several openings for
the access of marine life and they are constructed with built-in adapters
for planting live corals. The Reef Ball Foundation of Florida, with whom
SDC is co-ordinating, has developed a system of reproducing live corals
and for this project, the foundation's expert volunteers created over
5,000 new coral colonies that were permanently attached to the Reef Balls
to form a natural reef.
During the project, the Reef Ball Foundation
corals in Antigua that were
imperiled by impending construction
operations and was able to rescue an additional 17.5 tons of adult coral
colonies, which were individually stabilised on the Reef Balls and saved.
To achieve the remarkable feat of restoring a
living reef system,
the Antigua Department of
Fisheries and the SDC enlisted the help of
over two dozen volunteers from the St. John's Chapter of the Antigua
Optimist Club. Over 500 sea urchins (Echinometra lucunter) were
to the reef to act as "janitors' to keep the corals free from algal
overgrowth. Scientifically-designed larval lobster settlement substrates
were added to the reef to enhance survivability of the spiny lobster
(Panulirus argus), an important species in Antigua.
have already been observed on the newlycreated reef. The volunteer teams
documented 73 fish species, 71 invertebrate species, 30 coral species and
26 algal species (plus a turtle) now on the reef.
Every day, the species lists continue to grow.
Human needs were not
forgotten in the
construction of the reef. SDC and the Reef Ball
Foundation created hundreds of yards of
snorkeling and diving
trails. These trails provide visitors with a complete tour of the reef to
see the wondrous and abundant reef life now present. The trails are marked
by Reef Balls that have a 12 x 12 inch square marking to make navigation
easy, or for
possible future educational signs.
The Reef Ball Foundation has asked divers to observe a voluntary "look,
but don"t take
policy" until the Fisheries Department has time to pass
a formal rule. There are plans to add mooring buoys so that anchor drops
do not damage the new reef.
Seagrass beds and mangrove tree roots are
integrated components of
a coral reef system.
They serve as nurseries for many animals that
live their adult lives on the reef. One of the reasons Reef Balls were
selected for this project is that the alternative would have
been an armor stone breakwater that would have impacted thousands of
square feet of seagrass beds.
At the suggestion of the Antigua Department of Fisheries, the Reef
Balls were chosen and
designed with special open bottoms to allow sea
grasses to flourish around and under the Reef Balls so that the conch
(Strombus gigas) habitat was preserved. In the areas on the lee or
southwest side of Maiden Island, where the sea grass beds are being
protected, a team with the SDC has conducted a Mangrove Habitat
Restoration Project to further complete the system.
Over 7,000 Red Mangroves have been imported into Antigua from Ft.
Lauderdale, Florida. The importing process included treating the Red
Mangroves with both fungicide and insecticide. Over time, these mangroves
will develop into a vast mangrove ecosystem for Antigua and will unction
together with the Reef Ball coral reefs to complete the marine ecosystem
The newly created mangrove habitat will enrich the life on the reefs
with an abundant supply of fish, lobster and a great variety of marine
life. As an added bonus, the mangroves will serve as natural filters to
maintain excellent water quality for the reefs near Maiden Island.
SDC's attention to the complete ecosystem, rather than just individual
components, has been one of the key aims of the overall Maiden Island
project. This project is the world's largest total marine ecosystem
restoration that includes joint coral reef and mangrove habitat
restoration. Since coral reefs and mangrove habitats interac significantly
from a biological perspective, the combination of these restoration
techniques will yield a greater environmental benefit than either project
Antigua can be grateful and proud that the SDC has chosen to create
this restoration on its shores.
Alfredo Quarto, Executive
Mangrove Action Project
PO Box 1854
Port Angeles, WA
fax (360) 452-5866