Five Royal Bahamas Defence Force members are now Coral Nursery Restoration Divers after being certified this week in a joint exercise with Stuarts Cove Dive Bahamas and Van Oord, civil contractors who executed construction during the Force’s Sandy Bottom Project.
Environmental and Conservation Officer in the RBDF, Lieutenant Desiree Corneille along with Chief Petty Officer Dwayne Rolle, Leading Mechanic Al Rahming, Leading Woman Royette Barr and Marine Seaman Ashton Strachan became the Force’s first Coral Nursery Restoration Divers on Tuesday past. This dive specialty certification is the culmination of classroom sessions and practical dives that included essential skills needed to maintain the nursery. Katie Storr, Dive Intructor at Stuart Coves Dive Bahamas was the facilitating instructor who led the Officer and Marines through the various training modules.
This training comes on the heels of the soft launch of the Coral Engine Nursery just a week ago at Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas, where Nursery Engineers and Researchers from Van Oord, divers from Stuart’s Cove and Royal Bahamas Defence Force, and environmental stewards from The Bahamas National Trust, BREEF and The Nature Conservancy partnered to heighten awareness about the plight of corals in the country and measures taken to mitigate the damage through intentionally growing corals.
The coral engine will be used primarily for the rehabilitation of coral reefs in the area and is in open waters around Goulding Cay, where after the Soft Launch ceremony, dozens of divers and snorkelers inclusive of eight Defence Force Marines, participated in the inaugural swim to see the progress of the corals.
The coral engine nursery is a collection of floating fixtures made of PVC pipes, that are suspended 2 meters below the surfaced but anchored at the base. The nursey resembles a grove of Christmas trees and are commonly called such by observers. Attached are strings of both asexually coral fragments and sexually established juvenile coral from several spawning sites. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force played a major role in the Van Oord Coral Engine Nursery efforts by providing an ideal and secure location for Van Ord’s research team to setup their lab facility and provided water and electricity for the past 3 years. “Let me say that without that type of support, we could never have achieved what we achieved,” said Mark van Koningsveld PhD, Research & Development Manager, Van Oord, as he extended his thanks.
Stuart Cove, who agreed to providing the training for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Officers and Marines was pleased that the initiative was one that highlighted Stuart’s Cove Dive Bahamas’ commitment to the marine environment of the nation and looked forward to other such collaborations in the future.
Commodore Tellis Bethel, Commander Defence Force, commended his team who have taken the first step in preserving our natural resources and agreed that this type of Military Civil cooperation aligned with the Force’s goal of ‘guarding our heritage.’ Van Oord, Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas