Ocean Community News

Coral World Preserves and Restores, while Educating Visitors

This week at ECO, we highlight Coral World, an ocean park located in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. One of our social media interns recently visited Coral World and witnessed the progress that the people at the ocean park are making in terms of restoration and preservation.

Coral World is a five acre coral nursery demonstration site and a part of the Nature Conservancy’s Coral Restoration Program. According to the park’s literature, the focus of the program is “to enhance coral populations by growing Elkhorn and Staghorn corals in seafloor nurseries” and then transplant “nursery grown coral fragments to depleted reef sites.” The nurseries are cared for on a weekly basis, which includes removing predators and preventing the overgrowth of algae. Elkhound and Staghorn Corals are each listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Although Coral World is relatively small compared to most aquarium style parks, the employees at the park have managed to create both an enjoyable and educational experience for locals and tourists alike. For example, the coral propagation system is a small but effective way to display many different species of coral for visitors to observe and learn about. The employees also do an excellent job of providing visitors with educational information about coral and coral bleaching, but juxtapose these facts with easily accessible ways to help preserve coral, such as encouraging visitors to purchase and use reef-safe sunscreen. Conservation at the park is not limited to corals, but includes the creatures dependent on this vital natural resource. Visitors can learn more about these creatures via hands-on interactions with sharks, turtles and sea lions without the need for specialized training.

While coral bleaching is obviously an enormous problem in our ocean waters, it is reassuring to know that ocean parks such as Coral World are doing their part to help preserve coral reefs and inform people about the realities and dangers of coral bleaching. To learn more about the projects and activities at the park, click here.

By: Noelle Edwards, ECO Social Media Intern

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Photo caption: Coral propagation system at Coral World. Photo credit: Noelle Edwards, ECO.

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