The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) in Little Cayman “planted” a coral garden on Friday, 12 June in honor of the late scuba legend, Bob Soto.
A team of divers and snorklers worked together to outplant 63 nursery-reared fragments of the critically endangered staghorn coral (Acroporacervicornis) onto the reef.
The group hopes that the Bob Soto Coral Garden will aid conservation efforts to bring the staghorn coral back from the edge of extinction. Successfully outplanting nursery-reared corals can promote vibrant reefs, an issue that was close to Bob Soto.
“Mr Soto spent nearly 60 years sharing his love of the underwater world with others,” said CCMI President Dr Carrie Manfrino. “He was an inspiration that will long be remembered by present and future generations of divers, snorkelers, and marine scientists.”
The outplanting team included visiting graduate research students who were taking part in the Rutgers coral reef internship program at CCMI’s Little Cayman Research Centre (LCRC).
“It was a truly humbling experience,” said Katrina Cordssen-David. Fellow intern, Mia Thomas echoed her sentiments. “I am now going to be a marine biologist. I came out of the water knowing this is my true passion.”
Once the fragments have had time to acclimatise to their new location, a formal dedication of the Bob Soto Coral Garden will take place in Little Cayman later this summer.