For the past three years, Round Hill Hotel and Villas in Montego Bay, Jamaica has worked with local marine scientists on restoring its reef ecosystem. With the help of coral restoration specialist Dr. Andrew Ross, the hotel created a coral nursery to expand the nearby reefs and instituted a no-fishing sanctuary.
Ross’ nursery replanted 5,000 corals in the Round Hill Reef Gardens, including 1,100 golden keystone corals. The workers there are currently beginning another set of nurseries, this time with corals that have demonstrated resilience against higher sea temperatures. According to Ross, the planted corals are strong and they have noticed an increase in sea life and diversity.
The hotel’s coral gardening involves growing small coral ‘nubbin’ cuttings, strung up in a nursery. When they grow larger, the team replants them in one of the three designated planting areas. Once placed, they can become nursery habitats for a variety of creatures, such as baby fish, lobsters and crabs. This helps to increase the volume of sea life, with the hope that it will spill out of the no-fishing area and provide for nearby fishing communities.
Round Hill also enlisted the help of local spear-fishermen as “Reef Gardeners.” They do the equivalent of garden work, weeding out algae and picking off snails and worms. They also serve as ambassadors to the local community, explaining the hotel’s intentions and goals. In the future, the hotel plans to offer educational tours, led by these gardeners.