Turtle tagging and data collection is always a highlight for our Sierra and Foxtrot program participants. This activity would not be possible without training and support form the Conservation and Fisheries Department and the Association of Reef Keepers (ARK). We are excited about our strengthened partnership with ARK this summer, and we hope this relationship will only strengthen for years to come.
Association of Reef Keepers is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and sustainability of the BVI’s natural marine resources. Although the organization is entering its twenty-second year, recent changes provided the infrastructure needed to support the mission of ARK. Under the leadership of Marine Biologist Shannon Gore, ARK will educate and involve the community and provide resources to mitigate the ever-increasing threats to the natural resources of the BVI.
There are several main project on the horizon for ARK. The Virgin Island Sea Turtle Programme has been around since the 1980’s, but ARK’s involvement will help the BVI government meet their program goals over the next 3-5 years.
Another project is their Marine Monitoring and Restoration Project. The biggest component of this project is the establishment of coral nurseries in the BVI. With funding and support from the Nature Conservancy, ARK will work with the BVI government to propagate and protect damaged coral in local nurseries. Once the coral are healthy and stable they will be transplanted in local damaged reefs.
The Ridge to Reef project seeks to develop a holistic approach to watershed management in the Cane Garden Bay community. Coral and marine health is directly affected by the surrounding land use. Community education and involvement is important to make lasting changes that will effectively protect local marine ecosystems, which directly influences the local economy.
All of our Sail Caribbean programs have marine science lessons and activities related to the environmental issues targeted by ARK. Coral health is a main focus in all of our programs, but some programs will take a deeper look at watershed management, sea turtle conservation, and community outreach. In addition to our own curriculum that covers these topics, we will also partner with ARK for certain projects. Our Foxtrot and Sierra adventures will submit their turtle tagging data to ARK to assist with their Virgin Island Sea Turtle Programme. Ocean program participants will work directly with ARK as well, by participating in a Turtle Encounter programme. Future partnership possibilities are endless!
Like ARK on Facebook for interesting facts, articles, and updates on their projects. Contined support will be the driving force that enables ARK to make the positive changes to protect the beautiful places that we all love.
The greatest challenge during the program was staying entertained during the quarantine period. Not being able to leave your boat and not having a phone, which was a crutch against boredom, it was difficult at first to stay entertained.