MSC’s Ocean Cay becomes Mission Blue ‘Hope Spot’

MSC Divina in Ocean Cay
MSC Divina in Ocean Cay

MSC Cruises’ Ocean Cay Marine Reserve in the Bahamas has been declared a ‘Hope Spot’ by nonprofit Mission Blue in recognition of its conservation efforts.

Executive chairman of MSC Group’s cruise division, MSC Foundation board member and executive committee chair, Pierfrancesco Vago, has also been named ‘Hope Spot Champion.’

"Being designated a Hope Spot is an important recognition for Ocean Cay Marine Reserve and helps focus attention on how we all have an important duty as caretakers of our Blue Planet," said Vago. "That responsibility is why the scientific research and restoration efforts of our Super Coral Program aim not just to create resilient coral reefs around Ocean Cay and in The Bahamas, but to simultaneously contribute to conservation knowledge and initiatives worldwide."

The executive chairman went on to thank the nonprofit and Dr. Sylvia Earle, President and Chairman of Mission Blue, ‘for their tireless efforts, which inspire us all to cherish and safeguard the rich biodiversity of our oceans.’

Earle shared the excitement, stating, "This recognizes the comprehensive restoration efforts and commitment to protecting marine biodiversity. Led by Pierfrancesco Vago, the restoration of Ocean Cay has been a multidisciplinary effort to reestablish the ecological balance in this limestone island and its surrounding marine estate. Ocean Cay will inform thousands of people weekly about the crucial importance of growing and outplanting thermally tolerant corals for marine conservation, ocean health and human wellbeing."

Ocean Cay joins Mission Blue's global network of 154 Hope Spots: places recognized as critical to ocean health with the ultimate goal of achieving the status of Marine Protected Areas.

When MSC Cruises took responsibility for Ocean Cay in 2015, the island had suffered from decades of industrial activities, including aragonite sand mining. The cruise line subsequently embarked on the restoration initiative, collaborating with the government of the Bahamas, universities, marine scientists and conservationists to restore the island's ecosystems.

To date, nearly 5,000 trees and 75,000 indigenous plants, flowers and shrubs have been planted on the island, revitalizing the landscape. The health of the surrounding waters is described by MSC as flourishing with marine life, including the presence of loggerhead sea turtles.

The Marine Restoration Program, which covers 64 square kilometres of marine waters and ecosystems around Ocean Cay, was expanded in 2019, when the MSC Foundation started its Super Coral Program to restore the island’s coral reefs.

As Open Jaw reported, researchers at Ocean Cay recently celebrated the successful beginnings of its first coral nursery.

More information can be found on MSC Foundation's website.

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