Coral gardeners are breathing life back into Jamaica’s reefs

Coral gardeners are breathing life back into Jamaica’s reefs

Once home to a vibrant sea life abundant in stunning coral reefs, after a series of natural and man-made disasters in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Jamaica lost 85 percent of its once-bountiful corals. This resulted in a steep decline in seafood populations upon which many families’ living hoods depended.

But today, the corals and tropical fish are slowly reappearing, thanks in part to more than a dozen grassroots-run initiatives focusing on “coral gardening” and restoring fish populations.

Resident Everton Simpson is one of the forefront heroes dedicating a good part of his time occupying himself with the delicate labor of a coral gardener. Once he reaches the designated spot with his motorboat, he swims down 25 feet carrying a pair of metal shears, fishing line, and a plastic crate.

On the ocean floor, small coral fragments dangle from suspended ropes, like socks hung on a laundry line. Simpson and other divers…
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