Turks & Caicos

 

Participants in our project on the Turks & Caicos Islands enjoy a full range of modern comforts with enhanced educational opportunities.

The project is located on Providentiales island, commonly known as “Provo.” Provo offers a casino, golf club, shopping and beautiful beaches. Divers enjoy pristine waters and one of the most extensive coral reef systems in the world, as well as wall and shipwreck diving.

Participants will work under trained leaders to build and deploy ReefBalls for a snorkeling trail at the new TCI Visitors Center, and for an offshore reef system.

Our host in the Turks & Caicos Islands is Marsha Woodring, a marine biologist and National Trust researcher with Seas Systems, a company specializing in coastal engineering and environmental enhancement projects in the marine science field. Sea Systems and the ReefBall Coalition have collaborated to develop this current ReefBall reef project.

 

 

Team maximum: 20 people

Price: $1,599 per person

 

Price includes seven nights at the Comfort Suites Provo including continental breakfast daily, a $50 per person bar credit; all transportation and transfers; a sunset sail and barbecue with the island host; an Iguana eco-trip to Little Water Cay; reef ball workshop and on-site training, hands-on reef monitoring; two free days for diving and other recreation, and two ReefBall Coalition  T-shirts.

 

There's no doubt about it. ReefBalls look decidedly humble.

In fact, they're almost comic in appearance: A squat hollow dome of misshapen concrete pockmarked with more holes than a Speed Limit sign on a country road.

But they are an ugly genius: a low-tech triumph of function over form that makes ReefBalls the single best tool for restoring our depleted ocean reefs.

When it comes to artificial reefs, virtually anything can be  (and has been) used: old tires, old military vehicles, junked cars, old ships and more.

They all have drawbacks: Tires tend to break loose and wash ashore after a storm; metal rusts and the reef collapses. Many of thes “matierals of opportunity” reefs pollute the oceans.

Then there are ReefBalls. They're made of concrete, which is environmentally inert to begin with. Then, a natural additive is poured into the concrete mix that does two important things: 1. It brings the pH of the concrete close to that of the surrounding ocean, making it much easier for new life to take hold on the surface of the ReefBall. 2. It makes ReefBalls strong enough to last for 500 years.

And unlike virtually any other like-sized man-made material that has been used for artificial reefs, the ReefBalls stay put. Their dome shape, combined with strategically placed holes for water flow, make them actually hunker down tighter to the sea bed in a strong current.

In fact, when Hurricane Georges smashed into the Dominican Republic with 150 mph winds, the ReefBalls stayed snug and secure on their ocean floor home.

ReefBalls are so unique and effective that both their design and their manufacturing process are patented.


All ReefBall pods are made by pouring concrete in a fiberglass mold. Inside the mold, an large inflatable ball, surrounded by smaller inflatable balls attached to the mold, give the ReefBall its characteristic hollow, Swiss-cheese shape.

ReefBalls come in six. The two sizes of ReefBalls used in volunteer projects take less than an hour to build. Once the concrete is poured, the mold is left in place for the concrete to harden. The mold is removed while the surface of the ReefBall is still pliable enough to be intentionally scarred by scraping it and forcefully hosing the surface to uncover the aggregate in the concrete.

This thorough scarring creates nooks an crannies that make it easy for juvenile corals and the spores of marine plants to adhere to the surface of the ReefBall. It's not unusual to see ReefBalls supporting healthy colonies of marine flora only three months after being deployed.

After drying, the ReefBalls are ready for deployment. The pods are rolled to the water's edge and pushed out. And ... they float! The rubber bladder is still in the center, making deployment easy. ReefBalls can be easily towed behind a boat to the deployment site, but our volunteers have more fun pushing them out themselves. All it takes is one snorkeler!

Once at the deployment site (usually near the shore in 8 to 15 feet of water), a little air is let out of the bladder — just enough to start the ReefBall on a gentle decent guided by divers. The precision that this technique affords makes it possible for ReefBalls to be placed without endangering adjacent natural reefs.

When the ReefBalls are in place on the bottom, the last of the air is let out and the deflated bladder is pulled out through the hole in the top.

When a series of ReefBall pods are deployed, they make the foundation for a new coral reef. Within a year, the new reef will be home to plenty of marine plants, which in turn attract fish and other marine life that use the reef-balls for food and shelter. And our marine ecosystem is that much better off!

 

Q: How difficult is this program? I am not a diver, but want to help.

 

A: There is no better way to help than to put on your bathing suit and roll up your tee shirt sleeves! Volunteers need no special skills, just a willingness to help. We will supply the training. Once completed, you will be ready for any ReefBall project anywhere in the world. Families with children are welcome as long as a parent is with children younger than 18 years. If under 12 years, complete supervision is required along with project coordinator approval for children to be on site.

 

Q: What are accommodations like?

 

A: The possibilities range from simple dorm style lodging at a marine science center to elegant hotels. The accommodations will depend on the project you choose to participate in. All lodging will be at the very least clean and comfortable and you will know when signing up the lodging offered.

 

Q: Why do I have to pay if I am a volunteer?

 

A: Your donation to RBC may be tax deductible, and covers the cost of your lodging, some meals, transportation to and from the site if required, associated educational program, professional staff and site preaccessment physical surveys, permitting, etc, as well as the  administrative cost of organizing and coordinating the program.

 

Q:Tell me about project type and length.

 

A: Each program description will show a start date, and anticipated duration of the project. Most are run on a weekly basis. You may choose a project for building and deploying at one host site, or a monitoring project at another. ReefBuilder and ReefKeeper programs are both interesting educational experiences.

          

Q: I am a diver and snorkeler; can I bring my equipment?

 

A: Yes, of course, we suggest you at least bring your own mask, fins, snorkel and regulator. There will be plenty of opportunity to dive and snorkel. You may also rent equipment on‑site, and we work with local dive shops to provide optional diving and snorkeling excursions.

          

 

Q: Will I have time to enjoy other activities at my destination?

 


A: Yes, free time options vary with each destination, however most will offer sightseeing, shopping, car rental, diving, snorkeling, golf, night time activities, and, if you prefer, nothing at all.

 

Q: Tell me about the reef ecology program.

 

A: At each site, we offer several beachside lectures for participants to learn about reef ecology, so that you understand more about why this fieldwork is so important. Discussions will focus on active learning through first hand experience about the biodiversity of coral reefs. You will learn how to identify different corals, reef fish and other inhabitants, discussing their abundance and distribution, habitat and behavior, and effect on humans. We will discuss "Reef Tourism" and its economic value, and how the plight of endangered reefs the world over will affect our love of the seas.          

 

Q: How do I get to my destination?

 

A. You can either make your own travel arrangements to the project site or ask RBC to make travel arrangements for you. You may purchase airline tickets by check or any major credit card. Once "on island", you will be met and transferred to the host lodging.

          

Q: What documentation do I need?

 

A: All destinations require either a passport or proof of citizenship in the form of a state issued birth certificate with raised seal and a photo ID, such as a driver’s license. We prefer you have a passport with at least six months validity remaining when you enter the country of your project. We cannot be responsible if you fail to secure proper documentation and are denied entry.

          

Q: How do I reserve a place in a workshop?

 

A: Space for programs is limited. To reserve a place, a deposit of $250 per person by check is required for the Caribbean Reef Projects program. For groups of eight or more, the RBC can customized a program that will fit the needs of a family, company, dive, educational group, etc. If the session you request is already full, you will be put on a waiting list or contacted about participation on another project.

          

Q: When I payment due?

 


A: Your final payment is due 60 days prior to departure. If payment is not received, your reservations may be cancelled and deposit forfeited. No payment other than deposit is required for those on a waiting list. If we cannot accommodate you on a project requested, your deposit will be refunded in full. Payments by check or money order only. We do not yet accept credit cards, except for airline tickets we may purchase for you.

After receiving your deposit and completed project application, we will send you a pre‑trip information packet that includes more

specifics about your project.

 

Corporate community involvement

 

For your next corporate team-building initiative, do something fun and DIFFERENT! Make a reef!

Reef-building workshops sponsored by the Reef Ball Coalition offer everything a term-building outing needs: challenges, fun, cooperation, hands-on adventure, lifelong learning, and the satisfying sense of accomplishment that comes from making our oceans just a little bit better off for everyone.

The flexible schedule for our workshops makes it easy to coordinate ReefBall team-building with other briefings and work sessions that may be planned in conjunction with the trip.

And of course, there is plenty of time for swimming, snorkeling, diving and other recreation. Some locations offer golf!

The ReefBall Coalition can put together workshops that suit any style corporate team-building outing, from “roughing it,” to indulging in the luxury and amenities of a fully equipped resort.

Let the ReefBall Coalition take the work out of your next corporate team-building program: Pick a date, pick a location, and tell us how many people you're sending. We'll do the rest. You can either sign on for a scheduled workshop, or call Joyce Moore, our projects coordinator, for a custom outing.

 

ReefBall Coalition reef-restoration projects offer unmatched hands-on study opportunities for sceince and marine biology students and teachers alike.

At our project sites, participants not only make and deploy ReefBall pods, but study first-hand the various phases of reef development, bringing them a greater understanding of the ecology and life cycle of marine corals and plants that colonize reefs, and the fish and other sea creatures that depend on them. Reef monitoring and survey opportunities further their education. Briefings go into more technical detail, given the greater knowledge of the students compared with other “reef-builders.”

Reef-building workshops make an ideal end-of-year excursion for classes. Students can hold fund-raisers during the school year and cap off their class work with a Caribbean adventure that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Teachers who bring groups of at least 10 students may be eligible to have their workshop fee waived.

Like all ReefBall projects, students and teachers enjoy two free days for snorkeling, hiking, sightseeing and enjoying the pristine island beaches.

 

Hands down, coral reefs are the favorite destination for divers.

With the ReefBall Coalition's reef-restoration projects, divers can indulge in their favorite pastime even as they lay the groundwork for future coral reefs that will reward them with even better diving in the years to come.

Divers play a vital role in every ReefBall workshop: When the time comes to put the completed ReefBalls in place, divers guide them during their gentle descent to the sea bed. Then, divers recover the flotation bladders from the middle of the ReefBalls so they can be used again.

All ReefBall Coalition projects include plenty of free time for diving, making ReefBall projects the perfect opportunity for divers planning a Caribbean excursion to enjoy their sport while leaving the legacy of a better marine environment.

ReefBall projects are an ideal outing for dive clubs. Many dive clubs have annual service projects -- building a reef could be one of them! ReefBall projects are perfect for individual divers, too.

After all, how many diving trips offer warm, crystalline water, beautiful scenery, and the opportunity to do something good for the ocean?

 

The ReefBall Coalition's reef-restoration projects bring an exciting new dimension to the travel options offered by alumni associations, friends of zoos and aquaria, and other associations that sponsor travel excursions for their members.

What could be better than combining the fellowship and shared interests of group members with the sense of accomplishment that comes with every reef restoration workshop — especially when the outing itself has all the flavor and fun of a tropical vacation?

The ReefBall Coalition offers destinations for all tastes, from the amenities of all-inclusive resorts, suitable for alumni groups, to the back-to-nature setting of Dominica. Zoo and aquarium clubs will enjoy our project for the new visitors center for the Turks & Caicos Islands. The program includes a visit to Iguana Island, as well as a conch farm and fish hatchery.

Regardless of the destination, participants will have plenty of time for sight-seeing and other recreational activities in an exotic tropical setting.

For travel club planners, ReefBall workshops are an effortless way to offer something new: the ReefBall Coalition has already done all the work for you! Simply call Joyce Moore, our projects coordinator, to reserve placers in a workshop or arrange for a special workshop for your group.