Sir Richard Branson was in Little Cayman and witnessed a massive spawning aggregation of Nassau groupers and was impressed.
Branson made the dive off the coast of Little Cayman with Dr. Guy Harvey, the Cayman Islands Department of Environment and Reef Environmental Education Foundation to help spread the word about protecting this critically endangered iconic fish.
Each year after the February full moon, thousands of Nassau groupers gather off the west end of Little Cayman to spawn. This concentration of fish in one area makes them an easy tar-get for fishermen and consequently, populations of Nassau grouper have become overfished and devastated throughout the Caribbean.
REEF and the DoE have worked for 15 years to monitor and protect this species and aggregation site. Because of the ongo-ing research programme, education, and implemented legisla-tion including a five-month closed season and catch limits, sci-entists consider there is a positive trend in the recovery of the species.
Branson, who described the experience in a blog, visited Little Cayman to see if the scientific work and conservation effort could be exported to other islands.
“The Nassau grouper is such an iconic, Caribbean species. Di-vers love to interact with this friendly fish. As a reef predator, the grouper also needs to be protected for the health of our reefs,” said Dr. Harvey. The GHOF has spent seven years sup-porting and promoting this spawning aggregation to local and international communities, emphasisingits importance to the reef ecosystem. “We appreciate Sir Richard’s interest in this. Awareness is the first step in taking action.”
During the expedition, Dr. Harvey’s production team also shot a sequel to the critically acclaimed Mystery of the Grouper Moon which first documented the work six years ago.