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Duke of Edinburgh volunteers plant out mangroves at Barkers

Local News 31 Oct, 2022 Follow News

Adam Jackson, Lead Aquarist at the Cayman Turtle Centre, shows Duke of Edinburgh volunteers the right way to plant the mangrove seedlings

Several students who are pursing the Duke of Edinburgh Award got their feet wet and had fun, planting red mangroves for Cayman’s future

Planting mangroves at Barkers National Park

Planting mangroves in the sea at Barkers National Park in West Bay

By Christopher Tobutt

Young people taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award got together with the staff of Cayman Turtle Centre to plant some red mangrove seedlings at Barker’s National Park in West Bay. The seedlings all came from the Cayman Turtle Centre’s mangrove exhibit, which seeks to replicate a small portion of mangrove ecosystem at the edge of the Turtle Centre’s big Saltwater Lagoon.

The exhibit has been established for ten years, and the red mangroves began putting out seeds which were more than the Centre needed to replenish the trees in the ecosystem. Adam Jackson who is the Lead Aquarist at the Centre and a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award winner, along with some of the other team, decided to start planting them out at Barkers National Park here in Cayman will be having a planting of seedling mangrove trees up in Barkers, West Bay.

Over a dozen Duke of Edinburgh Award volunteers came to help plant 16 of the seedlings in a foot or so of water about ten meters from the shore. They are planted in small concrete troughs, sunk into the substrate, so that the mangroves still while they put down their deep taproots, and then spread out to the sides. Soil is put inside the troughs, and then covered with gravel so that the lapping of the waves doesn’t wash it away.

Hon. Bernie Bush; Minister for Youth, Sports, Culture & Heritage encouraged the young volunteers: “Thank you…I think it’s an awesome thing to do. This is a beautiful little country. There are not too many places like this in the world and this belongs to you all. Continue to get involved in things like this, please, and make it a better place than when you found it.

The Turtle Centre’s Adam Jackson said: “We took a few seedlings that were catching, and we put them in our shoreline nursery. So they started to grow really well and they settled themselves in to the exhibit. We left them alone to see how far they would go. Well we were kind of not paying too much attention, just letting them grow, and all of a sudden we saw all of these lovely mangrove seeds coming from them We have been collecting 50 to 60 seeds every two to three weeks and we were wondering what to do with them. Cayman Turtle Centre gives back to the environment by our turtle releases. We also give back through our parrot and other bird releases.

“We said we could give back to the environment by planting these guys out so we started a little growing facility at the Cayman Turtle Centre. My team and I are going to come out here every two to three weeks to check on their progress. In about six to eight months, they’re going to put their stilt roots out around the concrete base, anchoring them further, and that’s how they will expand.”

Turtle Centre Aquarist Jennifer Robinson explained just why red mangroves are so important: “they help stop storm surges which are coming with climate change as well as coastal erosion. They also filter all of the runoff water that is carried out into the ecosystem.

“Mangrove forests absorb ten times more carbon dioxide than a regular forest or so to have them is really important for our little island and really necessary for us to do our part,” she said. “These are also nurseries for all the fish that we see around our islands and our reefs. So they are helping us to have a healthy ecosystem around our islands so that tourism remains popular.

Caitlyn, 18, a student of Triple C School and participant in the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award said: “I feel I need to help out with Cayman’s environment and its essential, not only for Cayman’s ocean life but our life as well because it helps when bad weather comes, and it also helps our sea life.

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