The island of St. Lucia is home to some of the liveliest and most colorful coral reefs in the Caribbean. The team at Scuba St. Lucia is working to make sure these reefs stay that way.
Scuba St. Lucia is the on-site dive center for the Anse Chastanet Resort. The island's favorite shore dive is located directly in front of the resort's beach. From there, divers and snorkelers need only make a short swim to immerse in a reef resplendent in hard and colorful soft corals and sponges.
In the spring of 2022, a new type of coral growth appeared on the Anse Chastanet Reef. But rather than sprouting from the seabed, these coral polyps hung from plastic pipe frames known as coral trees. This coral nursery, developed in partnership with REEF Rescue Network and Perry Institute for Marine Science, represented the first step in Anse Chastanet's new broad-based initiative that also includes a range of Eco-awareness and participant-based conservation programs.
A second coral nursery located on nearby Turtle Reef was soon added to the project, and over the course of a year the Dive St. Lucia team grew and successfully out-planted nearly 500 new corals. The nursery is currently growing five genotypes of Staghorn Coral and 2 genotypes of Elkhorn Coral. Plans call for the cultivation of additional coral species with a goal of eventually out-planting at least 5,000 new corals on Anse Chastanet and Turtle Reefs. Once established, these new corals will eventually spawn and further enhance coral reef health.
Among the Scuba St. Lucia staff participating in the coral nursery program is instructor Bradley Joseph. “My hope for this project is to see an expansion in the coral farm, with more trees and more coral fragments which would then give us a better chance of covering a larger area when it’s time to out-plant,” he says. “Hopefully, this project can generate interest among fellow divers and more people will be educated on this subject and willing to help for future projects.”
Working with the nursery gave Scuba St. Lucia divemaster Lee Sanjay Emmanuel a new appreciation for coral reefs. “Taking part in the coral restoration program has made me realize that corals take a long time to grow, and they are very fragile,” she says. “This experience has motivated me to take better care of them, hoping to secure their benefits for future generations.”
Lee's comments highlight the second goal of the nursery project, which is to increase public awareness. Thanks to its location close to the beach, the Anse Chastanet coral nursery can be easily viewed by divers and snorkelers. Divers looking to learn more can sign up for an AWARE Coral Reef Conservation specialty or get hands-on involved with Scuba St. Lucia's Coral Restoration Specialty Course.
These are just two of the conservation-oriented courses in Scuba St. Lucia's Reef Life and Renewal program. Other offerings include an AWARE Fish Identification Specialty Course, a Dive Against Debris Specialty, an Invasive Lionfish Tracker Specialty and a Sea Turtle Awareness program.
Scuba ST. Lucia and Anse Chastanet's marine awareness and conservation programs are coordinated and taught by the resort's Reef Life and Renewal Ambassador, Carmen Toanchina. In addition to being heavily involved in coral restoration and program development, she regularly hosts presentations on marine life behavior, reef ecology and other topics of interest.
A client of Scuba St. Lucia wrote: “As a diver who has traveled from Belize to Iceland to Hawaii, I wanted to give a shout out to the team at the onsite Scuba St Lucia. I would particularly like to thank Carmen for spending an hour at the end of the day to give us our own private 'turtle talk,' which we missed earlier in the week. I dive not only for enjoyment but also to understand the changes in the global ocean environment first hand. Carmen’s knowledge and passion was extraordinary, and her talk was one of the highlights of the trip.”
The Reef Life and Renewal program is a key element of Anse Chastanet's ongoing commitment to preserving St. Lucia's natural beauty found both above and below the water. “We are proud to strengthen our commitment to preserving the vibrant marine life that our guests have come to cherish,” says Nick Troubetzkoy, who is the owner and architect of Anse Chastanet. “We hope to inspire and educate our visitors about the importance of regenerative travel principles, encouraging them to make a positive impact during their stay.”