Choice Hotels International
14 Calle 3-08, Zona 10 Guatemala,
Thank you for providing the Reef Ball Development Group, Ltd. with Hotel accommodations in both Guatemala City (at the Clarion) and in Puerto Barrios (At Amatique Bay). As you know, the purpose of our visit was to assist the Association of Land and Sea with a project to build artificial reefs called, “Reef Balls” in the Atlantic to enhance tourism, fishing and the environment. Our primary mission was to work with the Association to help determine locations for future reef development. We also had meetings with INGUAT to help with ideas to increase countrywide tourism. However, while at Amatique Bay, we were fortunate to have Rolando Diaz give us a tour of the property. (Please give him our thanks, as he was a fantastic host.)
I thought it might be helpful to share our experiences in beach restoration work with you. The intent is to suggest ways to guide the remainder of your construction efforts that might be more ecological or provide additional opportunities to enhance guest experiences.
The following are some observations from my notes to consider
- Delay the channel protection groin construction until the beach on the left side of the groin constructed with geo-textile has sufficient beach build-up. This is because according to Naval records, the long shore transport of sand is moving from left to right across the property and once the channel is protected, less sand will build up on the left of the groin. (The new groin should do a good job in protecting the channel depth so the key is to get enough beach without sacrificing too much channel depth)
- Do not complete the joining of the geo-textile groin with the stone/rock groin without significant flushing designed into the system. The completion of this barrier would reduce the DO (Dissolved Oxygen) levels to below that capable of sustaining the sea grasses, fish and nitrifying bacteria in the beach area unless significant filtration /aeration were added. This would not only be a problem for the aquatic environment but could also lead to foul odors on the beach due to the action of anaerobic bacteria. (Sulfuric and decay smells). (Note: Navy charts already indicate that oxygen saturation is lowest in the areas closest to the hotel so it is best to error on the side of extra DO when practical)
- There are significant sea grass beds across the entire beach area that serve to stabilize the bottom and if allowed to die, the beach areas may experience an increase in muddy water/slimes on beach. These sea grasses are also significant juvenile fish rookeries. In the US, no development is allowed which impacts sea grass beds due to sea grasses importance to the ecosystem.
- The simplest and cheapest option is simply to leave the area open as it is currently configured. (Although some trash might be avoided if a “wrap around” on the rock groin was completed to mimic the wrap around of the geo-textile groin)
- If a closed in area is desired for other reasons, it would be possible to connect the two groins with Reef Balls with a foot bridge installed on top which would allow the needed flow through as well as providing an interesting “nature walk” with many fish, etc. to view. The Reef Balls would form a protective barrier to perceived “shark danger” as well as to much of the trash the washes ashore daily. As an added feature, any planned dive shop could point to the area as being connected with the offshore work being done by the Association for Land and Sea.
Please note that these observations are based on my personal experiences, as we did not bring down Dr. Lee Harris who normally works to engineer Reef Balls for use in these types of situations. Please take them in the spirit of such and rely on certified engineers for exacting layouts and specifications.
Again, thank you for the wonderful hospitality and I look forward to visiting your properties in the future.
President & CEO, Reef Ball Development Group, Ltd.
6916 22nd Street West
Bradenton, FL 34207
Direct Line 941-720-7549
www.reefball.com (Reef Ball Development Group)
www.reefball.org (RB Foundation)