BWIC Reef Action Team (RATs!) 2017 Week Four: Mangrove mania!

Mangrove education in Turks and Caicos Islands

On Friday the 3rd of February, the Reef Action Team and members of the Turks and Caicos Islands Department of Environment and Coastal Resources, Amanyara, and Big Blue Unlimited planted juvenile mangroves at Mangrove Cay.

Once we arrived by kayak, we were shown by Amy Avenant, from DECR, how to plant, measure and record the data of each propagule. We then planted our own mangrove. We measured the diameter of the trunk and the height of the plant in millimetres. We used flagging tape and numbered them (and named them!) with permanent marker for future checks.

Once we had finished planting the juvenile mangroves, in order to give them some peace and quiet as they grow, we secured a ring of buoys to the sea floor with the use of sand anchors, along with a sign to explain what we had done and why.

This is the start of a monitoring project of which we will check on at regular intervals. On each future visit, we will record the date, the name of the person gathering the data, as well as once again measuring the height and diameter of each mangrove plant. We will also add in if they have developed prop roots and record how many.

For us to be involved in developing this mangrove area, a proposal was put forward to the Turks and Caicos Islands Department of Environment and Coastal Resources, DECR, by our teacher and founder of the British West Indies Collegiate Reef Action Team, RATs, Tessa Rankin, along with Jaclyn Walker, Nature Discovery Centre Manager and Naturalist at Amanyara, Don Stark, Chairman of Turks and Caicos Islands Reef Fund, and Roger Halliday, Operations Manager at Big Blue Unlimited. We feel very fortunate that DECR approved the initiative and helped us get this up and running.

This proposal included our plan for planting, monitoring, and maintaining the mangroves. We chose to do this in a widely used area, adjacent to the boat channel, where paddle boarders and kayakers go regularly. As it is a busy area, there is a possibility that it could deteriorate over time, therefore it needs a little TLC. We hope that our efforts with this project will help in keeping our islands ‘Beautiful by Nature’.

On behalf of the RATS team, I would like to thank everyone that made it possible for us students at British West Indies Collegiate to have been able to take part in this opportunity.

Ella O’Connell, Year 12