Steady progress on reef restoration

Fundraiser next week to pay for materials


Stormy weather may have delayed progress, but it has not dampened the spirits of volunteers working to restore a large section of coral reef damaged by a cruise ship anchor. 

Volunteers on the Cayman Magic Reef Recovery Project believe they are making slow but steady progress on the groundbreaking effort to rebuild the reef. 

Joe Avary, a dive leader on the project, said divers are still spending countless hours under water sorting through rubble and salvaging live coral. Selected volunteers are being trained in “outplanting” coral – the delicate art of attaching the live coral back to the reef wall using marine epoxy. 

The group is also using tree-like structures on the ocean floor as frames for pieces of live coral to grow in a safe environment with maximum access to sunlight. 

“The idea is to get them some size before they are outplanted,” said Mr. Avary. 

Ultimately, the reef itself will require reinforcement. The reef wall has been weakened by the accident and scientists have recommended capping it with cement to prevent further damage in stormy conditions. 

As the restoration project moves into a new phase, money is required. An event has been organized at the Green Parrot at the harborfront in George Town next Friday from 6 p.m. 

Foster’s Food Fair has already made a $5,000 donation, and the restoration group now believes it can surpass its original $10,000 fundraising target. 

The event will feature a lionfish cookout, live music, raffles and auctions of prizes, including a live-aboard dive trip on the Aggressor, hotel staycations around the Cayman Islands, restaurant vouchers and water-sports trips. 

People will be asked to make a donation at the door, with all proceeds going to the reef restoration effort. “We’ll be at the door with a bucket, and you can pay as much or as little as you like,” said Mr. Avary. 

Donations may also be made via the National Trust website,, by using the donate tab and selecting Cayman Magic Reef Recovery on the donation form. 


Tree of Life: A tree-like structure is being used to give salvaged corals the chance to grow before they are re-attached to the reef. – PHOTO: NINA BAXA


Volunteers have spent countless hours under water salvaging live coral to be reattached to the reef. PHOTO: NINA BAXA


  1. Why is the harbor pilot and his employer not being held responsible and required to pay for damages? Doesn’t that company have insurance? It’s a travesty that other companies, divers and the people of Cayman are paying for this!

  2. To answer you question Brian. It’s because there is no perceived political benefit, which is why you haven’t heard one politician mention it. Maybe if the people made as big of a fuzz about this as they did about building a new waste management facility in Bodden Town it would get those fat cats in the LA’s attention.

    But then again why would anyone expect them to be interested in this, when they have no issues with continuing to let Mount Trashmore steep in the sun year after year.

  3. The dive association should not be wasting time and money on rebuilding the corals in George town harbor, because it is the official harbor/port with designated anchorage, which means that it would always continue to have anchors dropped in this designation marked by the Port authority. I think that spending the time and money to salvage the wreck of balboa, relocate to a protected area for a new dive site, and raise funds for legal aid to protect the corals outside of the harbor and be able to hold one accountable for damages to the corals outside the harbor. This is about the 5th time that corals restoration has been done in the harbor, it doesn’t make sense to keep putting money into something that is not working.

  4. The point of my comment was not to say if the harbor should be protected or not–because right now it is. The entire area is a designated marine park. My comment was that, in this instance, for whatever reason (likely the one mentioned by Mr. Davis), no one is being held accountable. For example, if someone takes a hermit crab from a marine park, they can get fined and jailed. However the harbor pilot and his company haven’t even been given a slap on the wrist, despite thousands of square feet of damage to the reef.

  5. @ Michael Davis ,that is a really serious accusation. Do you have proof of this and could you be so kind as to publish it? If not I hope that you and the Compass are sued and made to apologize. Most of your comments on here seem to be anti Caymanian ,it would really be a pleasant change to see a positive comment attributed to yourself. PS. I doubt that the Editorial Board will print this.

  6. Mr Avary, you seem to have a lot of facts about this cruise ship dropping the anchor in the marine park. The marine parks laws , says no anchoring of boat larger than 60,ft in sand only, no chain/anchors may cause damage to the corals. My interpretation of the law might be wrong, that’s why I said in my comment we need legal aid, to hold the people who are responsible for the damage to the corals. I think that a private citizens law suit could and should be made against those involved in the damages. It’s time for the people of the Islands to stand up and protect what / who need to be protected, because it seems that government is not reading these comments .